I’ve considered a few pre-season Jays targets that may make more sense than others based on current circumstances. The current circumstances include the Jays reportedly looking to deal Juan Rivera if possible, some players being out of options and new players possibly taking their spots on the roster (Scott Podsednik), the returning health of others (Dustin McGowan), and the depth of the pen and starting pitching overall.
With these things in mind, I have decided to run a short series of articles that will be “Assessing Potential Jays Trade Targets”. These are not probable deals, simply options that I thought should be examined because they have some legitimacy and sense to them. The first player I see as a potential target and the reasoning is as follows:
Yonder Alonso – 1B CIN6’2″ 210 lbs / Bats Left, Throws Right / 23 years old
Drafted: in the 1st rd (7th overall) of the 2008 draft by the Reds
Minor League Stats:
The Reds are set at 1B for the foreseeable future with Canadian Joey Votto manning the position. Alonso has proven in short time that he can’t really fit in at other positions such as 3B or LF. He has the bat to man 1B at an above-average level, was named the 2nd best Reds prospect by Baseball America, and would fit in very well at 1B with Toronto as a young and controllable player that can grow with all of the Jays top prospects.
Alonso projects to have a good amount of power, as indicated by his 45 extra base hits in 2010 over only 406 AAA ABs (an 11% extra base hit rate). He’s also Cuban, something that could potentially provide the Jays with a 3/4 Cuban infield of Alonso, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Yunel Escobar. I’m not certain, but I have a feeling that this would be an MLB first. Perhaps more important, however, is that Alonso would offer power from the left side of the plate, something that would complement the predominantly right-handed power within the lineup (Arencibia, Bautista, Hill, Encarnacion). Even Rajai Davis and Adeiny Hechavarria hit from the right side of the plate, leaving only Travis Snider and Adam Lind as left-handed options for the Jays. Adding a 3rd option would provide great balance for the Jays through the lineup, but the fact that Lind and Alonso would both be 1B and LHB options may be seen as a down side. If, however, it is determined that Alonso would be better at dealing with LHP than Lind has been historically, he could still be seen as a better asset when Southpaws are on the mound.
The Reds would not deal Alonso easily, but they are in the hunt for the playoffs in 2011 and are looking to win now. With no place for Alonso to make an impact with the Reds, a move to Toronto could bring back some players that would strengthen their weak points, namely relief pitching. With Francisco Cordero being on the fringe or being pushed aside by a blossoming Aroldis Chapman in Cincinnati being the first of many questions in the Reds pen, there is no doubt that improving their depth would go a long way to helping them win the NL Central. Nick Masset is the strongest setup man they have, and they lost Arthur Rhodes this off season. Aside from these two relievers, there was little certainty in the back end of the Reds pen in 2010.
The Jays could therefore offer the Reds a couple of relievers in return for Alonso, with other pieces on other side dependent on the quality of the players included. But, a deal of this manner seems to make sense on the surface if the Reds don’t want to lose many games in 2011 due to the pen. The Jays, with a potentially healthy Dustin McGowan and other RP candidates such as Carlos Villanueva, Josh Roenicke, and Chad Cordero still looking for roster space, can afford to let one or two RPs go. Adding a key prospect and/or other player, would likely be necessary in this case, but fulfilling a long-term option at 1B would be a great addition for the Jays.
With that said, I’m entirely aware that the Jays want to see how well Adam Lind performs at 1B and are also committed to Edwin Encarnacion as a full-time DH, so in no way am I saying the Jays will stray from that plan for the 2011 season. But, if a deal that would bring a young and controllable player of such a high-quality as Alonso made itself known, it is likely that the Jays would at the very least see if a deal could be worked out. How it would affect the 2011 lineup is another question, but it’s not like Alonso couldn’t benefit from additional seasoning in AAA for a potential arrival in The Show in late 2011 or 2012. In fact, such seasoning may be the very best thing for him.
It’s an interesting potential trade target, and with some trade history between the 2 teams (the Scott Rolen for Zach Stewart , Josh Roenicke, and Edwin Encarnacion deal), there is potential for another deal to take place this season if both sides find common ground. As always, dealing top prospects is not an easy thing to do, but there’s little to no chance that the Reds could find a spot in the lineup for Alonso, and therefore it makes him the perfect trade chip for them to use as they chase their first championship in quite a few years.
I wouldn’t say that Alonso will become the top prospect or player sought after by the Jays in 2011, but if he is offered to them in a potential deal by the Reds, he may make a whole lot of sense (or not) due to the reasons listed above. He’s not a probable acquisition at all since the Reds will want to hang on to him and the cost may be steep, but he does fit the mould of a young, high-ceilinged and controllable player that Alex Anthopoulos may have a lot of interest in if he is attainable at the right price. Therefore, if there’s a deal to be made, expect Alex to find a way to make it happen, because Alonso still projects to be a very special player once he reaches his potential in The Show.