Oct 1, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Neil Walker (18) is welcomed back to the dugout by manager Clint Hurdle (left) after scoring a run in the fourth inning of the National League wild card playoff baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Tempering Blue Jays Dismay and What's Next?

Which players are going to be filling the ol Skydome home locker room when Rogers Centre opens for play in April? Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

I chose this picture because I believe this field to be a great place to play.  Sure, the turf may be painful or griped about, but as a former college soccer athlete, I’ve played on turf that’s felt better than a grass field (especially during  late October playing in New Hampshire.)  I’m sure the Blue Jays have nicer turf than what I played on.  The point is, whomever takes this field should on April 4, Toronto Blue Jays Opening Day against the New York Yankees, should consider themselves still part of a historic franchise.

Sure, maybe the shine has come off since 1993, with 20 years of mediocrity.  Honestly, how many franchises can say that?  The Jays were only bottom-feeders three times since 1993.  Since ’93, 1551-1624 for a Win-Loss record, giving Toronto a .489 Win%.  Only one 90+ loss season (94, 2004), but only one second place finish (2006).  Blue Jays baseball has never really sucked for a long period, but also has not been anything to brag about either.

So I take another look above of what use to be called SkyDome.  Today, I see uniforms similar to that of the glory days.  I ask myself, “When is Toronto going to see glory again?”  Do you fellow fans have any idea?  I don’t.  I’ve been silent on Jays Journal, not wanting to contribute to endless, sometimes unfounded rumours that are going around for this team.  Just to be clear, our writers have been so wonderful at keeping pace with the winter meetings and twitter-sphere on all the factual stuff, the only thing I’d be able to report is something about as unfounded as Rogers possibly lowering payroll.  So that’s, honestly, how fantastic our group has been.

Again, if you have heard me, it’s been through Twitter.  I’ve been quite vocal about my displeasure of the early part of this off-season.  While I am satisfied with the signing of Dioner Navarro to be the Jays everyday backstop, I believe there’s still much work to be done.  Report after conflicting report has the Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos saying it’s either free agency that will right this ship or creative trading.  At this point, every credible news source has figured out that it’s going to be both.  Anyway, I’m tempering my expectations.  In Tip of the Tower editor Travis Bateman I trust,

but I have to believe that the Houston Astros signing Scott Feldman to a 3 yr/$30M contract screwed some of this up.  Not just for Toronto, but for baseball.  There were reports of teams offering the up and down pitcher 2 years at $15M, but the Astros had to go and screw up the market.  The Feldman deal forced the entire market of those better than Feldman (Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana… you know… all the guys the Jays are considering) to re-evaluate their value.  That, of course, takes time and so here we fans are, “admiring” a quiet off-season thus far.

I have no idea who’s going to land in Toronto at this point, but one offer I found intriguing was this from mlbtraderumors.com.  As previously reported on Jays Journal by Kyle Franzoni, the Pittsburgh Pirates inquired about DH/1B Adam Lind.  Come to find out, the person requested in return from Pittsburgh was 2B Neil Walker.  When I read about another Franzoni report on the Jays being interested in Billy Butler, I started thinking that maybe AA was onto something.  Franzoni’s article speculated that it could be a move to offset a trade for Jays 1B Edwin Encarnacion.  Jeff Blair thought maybe Butler to Toronto had something to do with this…

I hate speculating trades. I’m not awful at it, but much like my fellow writer Charlie Caskey said earlier in the week, putting myself out there to you Jays faithful can be a dangerous thing.  That doesn’t mean I’m scared though.  I tempted fate once with Casey Janssen for Tyler Skaggs.  I guess I might as well try it again.

A couple of days ago, the Toronto Sun mentioned the possibility of a few three team trades AA may have lined up.  I’m purely guessing (somewhat educated), so you guys can fire at will below, but I feel that the three teams may very well be Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and Toronto.  The reason being is they all have needs that each team can actually fill.  At least, in my opinion.

For the Pirates, the need for a sure bat that can hit a right-handed pitcher is 100% no longer a need with Adam Lind on your team.  He’s also under team control at a reasonable average of $7.5M over the next three seasons.  Platooing Lind’s left-handed bat with Gaby Sanchez‘s right side stroke actually creates a dangerous combination and is something of which the Pirates likely see extremely favourable.

What does Toronto need?  That question has been beaten to death.  For the sake of not getting assaulted in the comment feed, I’ll say “Obviously pitching, but a second baseman wouldn’t hurt!”  That 2B  is named Neil Walker.  Personally, I’m a huge Walker fan!  That’s if Walker can stay healthy.  Now before you start moaning and groaning, saying “Another oft-injured player Jay?  Come on,” look, just think it over a little.  Plus, as a Jays fan, if they’re giving up Lind, we’d expect more in return than just Walker right?

Enter the Kansas City Royals’ Billy Butler.  What does this do?  Toronto wants Butler and now needs to replace Lind.  This solves the platoon DH/1B the Blue Jays had with Lind, since Butler doesn’t discriminate against what pitcher he faces.  It also gets Pittsburgh off the hook from Toronto possibly (and ridiculously) asking for the services of Jameson Taillon (won’t happen) or some other high potential arm, and puts it on Kansas City.

Aside from Lind, what does Pittsburgh want for a high profile arm?  Suddenly, the Pirates have a need for 2B and with Royals signing Omar Infante today, that could make “super” utility 2B Emilio Bonifacio, or AAAA 26 year old 2B Johnny Giavotella available.  There’s also prospect Christian Colon, who quietly put together a solid season in Omaha.

The tricky part to all of this is figuring out what KC would want back in return.  Knowing Kings of Kauffman editor, Dave Hill, like I do, this is a prime opportunity for him to write a counter article and embarrass the crap out of me (he loves to do that.)  The glaring weakness for the Royals is their outfield.  The pitching staff will not miss Santana due to Danny Duffy making a healthy return, as well as the rise of Yordano “Ace” Ventura.  Behind Ventura and Duffy, should they falter, is a young stud pitcher named Kyle Zimmer.  So the Royals are pretty set there.  The Blue Jays have a lot of outfielders, but perhaps the best outfielder for the spacious Kauffman Stadium is the Jays Anthony Gose.  The problem with that is KC is littered with players similar to Gose’s profile.  Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson both have speed and may be more refined as a hitter than Gose.  Gose, however, is a better fielder than both with a much better arm.  Considering Gose would more likely be replacing Jeff Francoeur in RF, he is an upgrade.

Still, it’s awfully hard for me to gauge the true needs of KC being a Blue Jays fan. I can tell just looking this over that unless the Pirate player involved for KC is of real value, in this scenario, the Royals come out losers.  Again, I’m tempering my expectations for anything actually happening on the Blue Jays end this off-season.  High payroll and rebuilding farm system doesn’t exactly breed success in either free agency or the trade market.  I don’t even want to get into what the next option is.  Been there, done that, made that mistake, and you guys have enough material to harp on already.

What would you do if you’re Toronto?  Perhaps you could do me a solid and try putting yourself in the Royals shoes.  Would this trade work?  Are the Blue Jays doomed to stagnancy?  I don’t have many answers to that last question.  All I do know is I sure do miss seeing that beautifully lit dome, loud and full of blue, deep into October.  There are still two months before pitchers and catchers report.  In Bateman I trust!

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Tags: Adam Lind Billy Butler Neil Walker Toronto Blue Jays

  • Dave Hill

    The Royals traded for Aoki, so right is not quite as much of a problem. What the Royals could use is a power bat in the lineup, or a pitcher to slot in the second spot in the rotation. The problem is that, aside from the Jose Bautista rumors (which I’m not sure I believe), I don’t know where the Blue Jays have a fit for the Royals. Perhaps Encarnacion, if the Royals are done with Moustakas, but I think they give him another year to see if he can turn things around.

    I’ll probably expand on this over the weekend. You bring up several good points, so I’m probably not going to embarrass you for this one. I’ll save the embarrassment for when I beat you in the fantasy league for the third year in a row.

    • Justin Jay

      I think there’s a real threat to your crown this year bud. Maybe not by me, but legit threat. haha

  • Pelwr

    Gose is not a better fielder than Cain. Cain is one of the best defensive CFs in the game today, and that’s for over 182 games played at the ML level.

    Gose projects to be an average CF defensively along the lines of Dyson

    • Dave Hill

      Agreed. Only problem is that Cain cannot stay healthy. I wonder if he is a fourth outfielder.

      • Pelwr

        Cain is most definitely the starter. Dyson is probably 4th OF here though he would probably be displaced by Maxwell since his bat is weak.

        • Dave Hill

          Cain should be, if he is healthy. That has been the issue. Love the idea of a Gordon/Cain/Aoki outfield – it could be one of the best defensive outfields in baseball. I just need to see Cain make it through a full season.

        • Justin Jay

          Well, Cain argument aside, you seem to be a knowledgeable Royals fan. Any idea on how the Jays or Pirates could make a trade with KC work? Or does it just not happen at all?

    • Justin Jay

      Don’t get me wrong, I like Cain, but like Dave said below, he just can’t stay healthy. Gose’s glove and arm actually have been highly spoken of, so I’m not sure about those Dyson comparisons. I’ll agree that he’s inbetween, but I think closer to Cain, if not just as good. Gose has a cannon arm.

  • Budyzer

    The jays would be smart to deal Lind while his stock is high and when I seen the billy butler rumors things did seem to start lining up a long with AA’s admission that he had a three team deal possibly. Could this be the home run deal he spoke of where 3-4-5 dominos could fall and fill all the jays holes in one fell swoop?

    • Justin Jay

      Only if it lines up on KC’s end. That’s what the guys below are helping me to figure out. So far… not really. But Dave writes over at Kings of Kauffman and he says he’s going to expand on this from a KC PoV. I know him very well and he’s typically not wrong when it comes to the Royals… or baseball… in fact, we really hate him in our fantasy baseball league… a lot…

  • Bob Loblaw

    I like the quality of your writing Justin. You help make my internet experience less trashy.

    I think the Pirates ask for more than Lind, in exchange for Walker. They don’t have an immediate everyday replacement.

    My offseason nerves are pretty well shot. At this point, I’m throwing away caution and conservatism. I’d like to see another blockbuster. We’re a crazy, young fanbase with a risk taking GM. Let’s let it ride. Our really good wave of prospects is still in the low minors, so sacrifice the high minors to take the risk out of your major league team for 2-3 years.

    I don’t think Pittsburgh would give up Walker, but for Lind they may send a small package of prospects to Milwaukee. We would send a package based around Sanchez and Nolin to Milwaukee and in exchange they would send us Gallardo, Lohse and Weeks with some money on his contract. I would only be interested in Weeks if taking him helps the total asking price (ie Nolin and not Stroman). The package Milwaukee receives would have to completely reinvigorate and reshape their rebuild. They could use a SS to pair with Gennet, I bet they’d have interest in Goins (gasp).

    We could then sign Morales as Lind’s replacement. This scenario takes the payroll a little higher than our supposed limit (-7 for Lind, 22 for Gallardo and Lohse, maybe 5 or 6 for Weeks, 5-7 for Morales). I don’t see any way to contend without taking the payroll that much higher. Totally unrealistic but so worth it.

    • Justin Jay

      Thanks for reading as well as the kind words Bob.

      I did hear about Lohse and Gallardo being asked about. You mentioning Weeks is a first for me, but I’d rather go with Goins over Weeks at this point. Weeks looked bad last season, he’s not very cheap

      Looking at Milwaukee, I think they think they can be competitive. While that may be a reach, here are some things that the Brewers actually have going for them:

      1.) Young, talented middle infield. Gennett came up and stunned everybody almost as much as Segura did this year. Is Gennett playing over his head? Maybe, but in the game I got to watch him play, he DID look good. Fangraphs says he was decent defensively and also expects him to drop off a bit, but it’s still better than Weeks.

      2.) Young Pitching: Wily Peralta has a very good upside. Despite Gallardo having a down year, he finished pretty good and it could just be an aberration. He’s only 27. It also will be interesting to see if Tyler Thornburg turns the corner. He’s got an electric fastball. If he doesn’t, he may be better served as a closer, something of which the Brewers have needed for the last 2 years. Mike Fiers is currently in the Brewers pen, but he reminds me so much of Doug Fister. If he can rediscover his accuracy, he will be back in the rotation too.

      3.) Hunter Morris: Juan Francisco occupies 1B right now and probably will to start the season. He won’t last. Francisco Ks way too much. Morris does too, but not at Francisco’s rate. Morris hit 60 pts lower in AAA last season and still managed to knock out 24 HRs, which is only 4 less than what he did in AA. He’s 25 and entering his 5th season in the minors. I think a good spring has him up Opening Day, but more likely, he comes up in June, or whenever the Brewers find themselves completely out of it. September at the absolute latest though.

      The rest of the team is intact. If Braun comes back and is effective, that helps a lot. I like their catchers, Lucroy and Maldonado. Carlos Gomez is a psycho, but when he’s locked in, he’s as good as any CF out there right now. Last year I said they could take 2nd or they could finish last. This year, I think they’ll finish 4th, but it will be a 4th place finish that shows growth and promise, like the Pirates did a couple years ago. I can see them selling Lohse, but it’s tough to imagine Gallardo. I definitely see them getting rid of weeks, especially if Gennett continues to play the way he was last season. The only way I’d like to see Toronto grab Weeks is if Milwaukee releases him. At $11M and declining play, it’s a strong possibility for that to happen.

  • RyanMueller

    I see how Lind for Walker would work, but like the rest of the forum, just don’t see how Butler ends up a Jay. They have good staff and bullpen. This will be interesting. I could see Santos being included as a piece here. Also, Walker does represent an upgrade in the field and at plate over the guys we had last year, but he strikes out too much…and that is in the NL.

  • John

    Justin-Jay, dude we’re talking about Lind, a take me if you want me waver just a summer ago. Ok you want to pin your hopes on last year… he was hot and then COLD those numbers are not a true reflection of his season (please look over the stats by month not as a whole as any GM would) he still can’t hit lefties, has back issues Oh and 4 years of doing nothing after his SS award. The deal has some legs if you can overlook those 4 years, otherwise… a STRETCH Lind just doesn’t have that kind of value, sorry.

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  • brad

    I know I’m late to the party but I got an interesting one.

    Blue Jays send Bautista + reliever(or Happ…. which would be way better) to the Royals and Lind + reliever(probably Santos or Jannsen) to the Pirates

    Pirates Send Neil walker and Gerrit Cole to Toronto

    Royals Send Butler to Toronto and good Prospects + bonifacio to Pit.

    The Pirates: they trade a good young pitcher and their starting 2b for a starting 1b and a reliever(those 2 are about equivalent to Walker) and prospects + Boni(about equivalent to Cole… who is replaceable with Liriano, Volquez, Burnett likely re-signing and Tallion knocking on the door)

    The Royals: Add substantial power to their lineup. Enter win now mode with trading of prospects. Start to have a really good looking lineup. Butler, Boni, Prospects for Bautista and a pen arm is reasonable.

    Toronto: ends up plugging a hole in the rotation, at 2b, and replacing most of the hitting provided by Bautista in the lineup….. while saving 10+ million bucks(depending on relievers/Happ)….and losing 2 of their 700 relievers. That money could then be used to replace Bautista in RF via free agency or add an additional starter(taking lumps with Sierra/Gose)….. or some combination thereof.

    win-win-win as far as I can tell.