Okay, so it is not exactly as bold as Howard Eskin’s tweet in mid-November that Phillies’ GM Ruben Amaro was in “serious talks” to acquire Jose Bautista from the Blue Jays—a rumour that CBS columnist Jon Heyman later called “not even close.” Still, Jon Morosi of Fox Sports tweeted something curious Tuesday evening:
Jose Bautista to Seattle makes sense because M’s have arms and need RH power, but sources tell me there have been zero conversations.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 11, 2013
There’s an interesting way of shooting down a rumour before it even gets started. Did Morosi bring it up just because of Seattle’s recent aggression on the market? Or did he read our piece on Seattle as a possible Jays trade partner and consider possibilities?
Most likely the idea of a Bautista trade is due to Seattle’s rumoured interest in Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp. The M’s have forced themselves to go all-in after the recent $240 million signing of Robinson Cano, and speculation has pointed to adding a big bat like Kemp to help the lineup.
But while Seattle does indeed have some talented arms that may generate interest the other way, indications have also surfaced about the M’s interest in acquiring David Price from Tampa Bay. Would the Rays really be looking to trade away pitching while going out and getting David Price? And if they do get Price, would there be anything left to trade for Bautista?
A likely return would include Dustin Ackley, who had a slow start last season, but turned the corner for the latter half. Ackley has generated interest from the Padres, Yankees, and Mets, according to Jon Heyman. Nick Franklin, the other at second base, is another possibility. While either bring plenty of question marks, it might be useful to have another to compete with Ryan Goins.
A minor depth upgrade at second is a start, but it’s still far away from a proper return on one of the best overall players in the game. The Jays getting some additional prospects back would not help the 2014 season.
So this brings us back to starting pitching. There would be really no point in trading away Bautista without getting back a legitimate ace. But it’s also unlikely that Seattle would trade away Felix Hernandez. Hisashi Iwakuma had a great 2013, but is 32 and not likely a big enough impact.
An interesting scenario would be a three-way trade involving David Price coming to Toronto rather than Seattle. Tampa might gain some prospects from Seattle, the M’s get Bautista, and the Jays get Price, Ackley, and maybe a young arm. Even then, would you do it? Maybe there’s good reason there have been “zero conversations.”
With news late Tuesday coming from Bob Elliot of the Toronto Sun about Colby Rasmus being offered on the trade market, maybe a much smaller Rasmus trade will happen—maybe even with Seattle.