There’s no doubt that Alex Anthopoulos is actively looking for help for the pitching staff. But, when his moves include adding veterans like Jamie Moyer, Chris Jakubauskas, and the ever fragile Shawn Hill, you know that he is simply not finding what he’s looking for on any front, whether it’s the trade front or the promotion candidates. The former are likely too pricey or not under control for a long enough period to be worthwhile, and the latter don’t seem ready for the challenge.
I’ll attempt to sift through the multitude of options the Jays are facing when it comes to adding depth and talent to a rotation that has faced a lot of adversity of late. Of course, this list will only apply if the Jays deem themselves to be buyers. The list of 5 I’ve come up with will be in no certain order. Some of these will be long shots, while others will be viable. You be the judge!
(all salary info below obtained from Cot’s Baseball Contracts)
1. Jason Vargas, LHP-SEA, 29 years old
Sure, he’s not exactly a house hold name, but he has been effective over the last few seasons as an innings eater. Having thrown 192 innings in 2010 and 201 in 2011, Vargas is already on pace to break both of those marks this season. Sure, he’ll throw you the odd lemon, but if you look at his overall package of stats – most notably his whip which is at a 3 year low of 1.15 – you get a sense that the Jays could get a whole lot out of this lefty. He’s owed $4.85 million this season, and will be Arbitration eligible for the 3rd and last time in 2013 before becoming a FA. That gives the Jays 2 years of control, not a great amount, but just enough to have their young guns currently in LoA ready to take the helm. I’m not exactly sure how well Vargas would transition to the AL East, but the same could be said about any pitcher not in this division.
2. Trevor Cahill, RHP-ARI, 24 years old
Everyone’s initial reaction will be the same – why would the DBacks deal this great young arm while they still have a shot in 2012? Well, my theory is this: if you’ve made Justin Upton available, EVERYONE is available. Trevor already has a successful history in the AL, is under control through 2016, and would definitely provide a much needed boost to the rotation. I’m sure the price would match the talent, but if it’s control and talent that Anthopoulos wants, he’ll get both in Cahill.
3. Clayton Richard, LHP-SD, 28 years old
Not exactly a sexy pick, Richard could come to the Jays in a package that includes either Huston Street and/or Carlos Quentin. Richard has 2 more years of Arbitration left (2013-2014) and has actually done better on the road, and in the A.L. (during inter league play), than he has done at home. I know that Quentin is a health risk, but if the Jays pulled off this trifecta, they would essentially be doing everything that Jose Bautista is asking them to do. Solidifying their chances to earn a playoff spot by bettering their pen, hitting, and rotation all at once. I have absolutely no idea what the Pads would be looking for in this case. Surely, hitters like Travis Snider, Eric Thames, and Moises Sierra would be of interest. With Quentin becoming a FA post 2012 and Street being owed $9 million in 2013 before becoming a FA himself, the cost can’t be too high.
4. Ryan Dempster, RHP-CHC, 35 years old
Acquiring Dempster would indicate that the Jays are really going for it in 2012. He wouldn’t come at an overwhelming cost, but he is a FA after the season and will be 36 years old, not exactly what Anthopoulos has been aiming for since he took the helm. When you’re as down in the dumps as the Cubs have been and you have an asset like Dempster who is about to walk, you need to deal him ASAP while he’s doing well and is healthy. The possible trade match ups here are endless.
5. Tim Lincecum, RHP-SF, 28 years old
I know, I know, I know. The possibility of the Giants selling “The Freak” while his value is so low is extremely slim. However, I also know that Alex Anthopoulos has a knack for being able to make such deals happen and that he absolutely loves to buy low. You don’t have to look any further than Colby Rasmus and Yunel Escobar to know that this is true. I also know that taking a chance on one of the worst performing pitchers of the 1st half may not be worth the risk of being stuck with his $22.25 salary in 2013. I would counter this by saying that if the Jays can turn Tim around and get him throwing the way he can, the rewards outweigh any of these risks. We’re talking about a multiple Cy Young winner here, and besides, we all know that Anthopoulos also has a way of “getting rid” of any contract the Jays are stuck with. Possible match ups for a trade include Kelly Johnson heading to SF to take Theriot’s place at 2B, Yunel Escobar, as well as Snider, Thames, or Sierra and SP (some from the minors). If the Giants know that they want to make a push in 2012, the extra pop from 2B could help them get ahead of LA or solidify a wild card spot.
Of course, having done as well as they have despite Tim being off certainly doesn’t force them into anything at this point. I’m certain they’d much rather go into a playoff situation with Tim, Matt Cain, and Madison Bumgarner than be forced to deal Tim.
Unlike many fans out there, I don’t feel that the Jays are forced to deal for pitching. If Brandon Morrow can return strong, and the Jays can rely on Carlos Villanueva to continue to throw well, who knows what could happen? Surely, the Jays need the old Ricky Romero at a minimum to make a long-term appearance in the second half, and they also need Henderson Alvarez to go late into games and to mature. But there’s no gun pointed to the Jays brass heads and there’s no way that they’re going to deal their hard-earned prospects just to see if they can make something out of a see-saw season.
What are your thoughts on the list above?