Anthopoulos: Blue Jays likely to look for relievers via trades
You can get a pretty quick estimation of what the relief market looks like when the Houston Astros’ frugal ownership group is handing out $6+ million average annual project deals to set-up relievers. You could also understand when Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos started pumping the brakes a little bit.
Speaking with the media at the MLB Winter Meetings on Wednesday, Anthopoulos noted that the Blue Jays were focusing their efforts on finding relievers on the trade market rather than through free agency. That said, Toronto understands that they won’t mortgage their future to land a late-inning arm either, per MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm via Twitter.
Given that most teams are asking for Toronto’s top prospects, notably Daniel Norris, in deals, you can understand Anthopoulos’ desire to be realistic in this regard. And while that likely means no Greg Holland or Aroldis Chapman, it doesn’t necessarily take other guys off the board either.
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One name that has popped up on the trade market tonight is Washington Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard, who Shaun profiled earlier this week as a potential trade target. With a big money contract due in his final year of arbitration, the Nationals are actively trying to move Clippard and are currently engaged with clubs on his, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
With that said, the return investment for Clippard may be minimal, considering the receiving team would only have one year of control. The question comes as to how the Blue Jays would match-up with Washington. The Nationals have a talented young catcher in Wilson Ramos, but Ramos has struggled staying on the field consistently (played 100+ games only once in four full seasons). Could Dioner Navarro make sense here?
Likewise, the Texas Rangers are also in the market for some catching help, having Robinson Chirinos currently slated as the starter. Texas has some interesting relief arms that could be possible matched for Navarro, including Shawn Tolleson (pre-arb eligible), Roman Mendez (pre-arb), and Phil Klein (pre-arb).
A similar match-up could be found with the active Arizona Diamondbacks, who have traded their starting catcher, Miguel Montero, to the Chicago Cubs. Evan Marshall was exceptional in his first season in the Majors (4-4, 2.74 ERA, 9.9 K/9), and the Blue Jays would love to see him as a return, but given his age and upside, the Jays may need to look at a more realistic option. Brad Ziegler is coming off of a great season, limits the home run ball (0.35 HR/9), gets ground-balls (77.8%), and is durable (64+ games last 6 seasons).
That all said, Dioner Navarro is likely the biggest trade chip the Blue Jays have to work with. However, one year of Navarro isn’t likely to get a deal done and the Blue Jays will likely need to dip into their farm system a bit to land a viable relief option. Alex Anthopoulos knows just how deep he’s willing to reach, and he’s not going to over-invest (again) in a relief arm or two.
But how much will the market bear?