So, the Arizona Diamondbacks are open to trading a shortstop? Could the Toronto Blue Jays swing something to obtain Chris Owings or Didi Gregorius to fill their hole at second base? Whether Alex Anthopoulos will admit it or not, there is a huge question mark at second coming into this season. Is Ryan Goins up for the task of a full season? His glove appears to be slick enough. But can he do it for a full season? What about his offense? Hitting coach Kevin Seitzer seems to think there is more to Goins’ bat. Perhaps the Blue Jays should could be more proactive going into a season of “what ifs”. Could AA get a shortstop to play second without having to deal with Scott Boras? Could Chris Owings or Didi Gregorius fit?
According to Nick Piecoro of USA Today, GM Kevin Towers and “the Diamondbacks are loaded with shortstops. Beyond Owings and Gregorius, they have a serviceable backup in Cliff Pennington on the major league roster. They also have prospect Nick Ahmed, a defensive wizard who hit much better as last season progressed. Catching and starting pitching are areas of relative need in the Diamondbacks system.”
Speculation has been the theme of the 2013/14 off-season. From our couches, we fans can play armchair GM (again) and see if we can come up with a scenario where the Blue Jays line up with the Diamondbacks on the trade front.
Gregorius (24 yrs old) has played just 4 games at 2B in the minors. He has missed time due to an elbow issue, so maybe the transition to 2B might be good for him. Owings (22 yrs old) has played 11 games at 2B in the minors. He also comes with one more year of team control than Gregorius, which may be a more appealing target for Alex Anthopoulos. A quick look at Baseball Reference stats of Goins, Owings and Gregorious tells us that Owens has had a better bat with more pop than the others thus far. I’d target him.
The Diamondbacks are looking for catching help that is close to MLB ready; “more of an upper-level guy. Maybe a top, upper-end starter”. They are looking to add to the contributions of Miguel Montero. So, they’d need a catcher who can back him up or even take on the full-time role if necessary. The only options the Jays have to offer that Kevin Towers may consider are Dioner Navarro, Erik Kratz, Josh Thole or A.J. Jimenez.
Of this group, Jimenez may have a potentially larger upside. Having parted with Travis D’Arnaud last off-season, would AA be willing to part with another catching prospect? If so, does that leave an organizational hole at that position? Can the Blue Jays get by with Navarro, Kratz and Thole for the foreseeable future? One might be concerned that Thole seems to be the only one who can handle R.A. Dickey‘s knuckleball, but the Jays have been giving Kratz lots of reps with it. Is the knuckleball really enough to keep Thole? Probably not.
Another option for AA to throw out there is an outfielder. There are options to choose from in that area. Colby Rasmus is heading into free agency at the end of the season. Anthony Gose, Moises Sierra (who is out of options) Kevin Pillar are also considerations. The cost of Colby Rasmus to land either Owings (the preferable option) or Gregorius is too high. This would create a giant gaping hole in the outfield that Gose et al cannot fill. Besides, I’ve already written about what the Blue Jays should do with Colby Rasmus.
As for starting pitching…this is where it might get costly. Jays fans may not be REALLY comfortable with the idea that any pitching is expendable. It would appear that the Jays are putting all their stock in the various options they have to fill out the rotation. So, it would be difficult to imagine them taking from this group to swing a trade. However, we do know that AA has already shopped Sergio Santos to the point where he was set to send the once closer to a couple of teams. Although, Towers may have already addressed his team’s need for a closer with the addition of Addison Reed.
Perhaps the Jays’ bullpen can offer Towers another appealing option. There may be an Esmil Rogers or even a Todd Redmond available. Or…dare I say it…Dustin McGowan. Guys who can start, or come in from the bullpen have value. What about Kyle Drabek? The thought of this may make Jays fans uncomfortable. But, to get something, you have to give something up. There are also players like Deck McGuire and Chad Jenkins who may be added for organizational depth who can be called on if needed.
So, if the Diamondbacks are looking for MLB ready (or close) talent at catcher, outfield or pitching as reported, here is what I’d offer (at least as a starting point):
To Toronto: Chris Owings
The only reason I’d start this way is that I’m not overly comfortable giving up A.J. Jimenez. However, if that is what it takes, I could live with Jimenez and Drabek for Owings.
Before fans shout at me over this deal…let’s remember that Drabek (Kevin Towers, if you’re reading, please look away) has had health concerns (Tommy John surgery) and more mechanical issues than my car. Yes, he was the crown jewel in the Roy Halladay trade, but I would ask, “How’s that working out for ya”? Obviously, teams are scared to give up on young pitching, especially a team as desperate as the Blue Jays. The question is: “What is the going rate for a young, controllable infielder with a high ceiling”? If Stephen Drew‘s situation is any indication, perhaps dealing Drabek and Jimenez Thole is palatable.
You’ve got to give something to get something. What are you willing to give? Or, are you content with Ryan Goins as the everyday second baseman?