Is there a method to the madness of the past few days in Blue Jays land? Shi Davidi (Sportsnet.ca) sure thinks so. The other day, he wrote about the somewhat perplexing Adam Lind deal being part of a larger plan. For Blue Jays fans, the idea that there is a larger plan can either be a comfort, a source of excitement, or lip service; depends on the fan and the day.
But, buried within Davidi’s musings is a tidbit of info that may intrigue. He mentions “trading someone like J.A. Happ, who’s been generating lots of interest” Hello! The Blue Jays just picked up his $6.7M option. Did they do so only to turn around and use him as bait?
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It would make (some) sense. If the 2015 season started today, the Blue Jays starting rotation would consist of R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, Drew Hutchison, Marcus Stroman and Happ. If a trade HAPPened to materialize and a replacement were needed, the Blue Jays would have Aaron Sanchez, Daniel Norris, Kendall Graveman, the newly acquired Marco Estrada and maybe Sean Nolin to fill in that spot. When you consider that, Happ looks a little expendable.
And, why not? He’s coming off a good season (for him). After battling inconsistency during the spring, he bounced back to provide a solid 5th starter year. His 11 wins were a pleasant addition. Yes, he had some rough outings. But, he also had some good ones. His 1.4 WAR is nothing to sneeze at. It’s not Cy Young material, but it is better than most expected. He’s a lefty whose fastball averaged 92+ mph this past season. He’s got value.
So, what could the Blue Jays ask for him? If you look at the list of potential free agents, you can see the two areas the Blue Jays should be focused on: outfield and infield, specifically second or third. The list of outfielders has some interesting names. But, I’m still holding out for them to keep Melky Cabrera. But, even if they don’t, there are others available and may not cost so much. And even if THAT isn’t an option, they do have Anthony Gose, Kevin Pillar and Dalton Pompey. So, it doesn’t appear that club will see the outfield as a priority outside of Melky.
The infield is a different story. Other than Pablo Sandoval, the list of free agents doesn’t exactly inspire fan-girling. In case you are unaware of the term, it means there aren’t many options that cause one to shrill and tear up with “OMG, OMG”. If the Blue Jays want to avoid the bidding war of the Panda, they should look to upgrade via trade. And, in a way, the Blue Jays are in a bit of a good position in that respect. With the versatility of Brett Lawrie, they can target either third or second basemen. It gives them more options.
If Happ is drawing interest, the Blue Jays need to strike while that iron is hot. Who knows when THAT heat will be back on?