The Toronto Blue Jays need pitching. Pardon me for the progressive idea, but the Blue Jays inability to work deep into games over the past week has fuelled trade speculation around the club with the deadline looming on July 31st. While the big names of Cole Hamels and Johnny Cueto will grab headlines all month, there’s always a B-level target that produces similar results for a lesser cost. Enter Mat Latos of the Miami Marlins.
Over the next four weeks at Jays Journal, we’ll be profiling numerous players like Latos who could potentially fit the needs of this roster. As we throw these names around so freely in trade conversations, it’s important to first analyze who the player really is, and whether or not they are enough to accomplish what the Blue Jays need. We’re talking about playoffs here!
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In Latos, the Jays should see a situation somewhat similar to that of Jeff Samardzija. Latos comes from the National League, which many treat as a red flag from the word “go”, but experienced several years of success with the Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres. This past offseason, Cincinnati traded Latos to the Marlins in exchange for Chad Wallach and Anthony DeSclafani.
Still just 27 years old, the mountainous Latos has fallen upon hard times in Miami. He recently took a DL stint with left knee inflammation following a rocky start, and the results have been mixed since his return. Many scouts have been encouraged by a spike in his velocity since returning, however, as Latos has sat around 94 MPH. Prior to the injury, Latos was sitting in the lower-90s.
At 35-46 and without Giancarlo Stanton, the Miami Marlins should be entering sell mode fairly soon. The $4-5 million remaining on Latos’ $9.4 million salary won’t be appealing for a Miami team soon set to look towards 2016, but for Toronto, that number should not be terribly daunting. Being a one-year deal, however, we must keep in mind that Latos would be a pure rental.
If Latos were to round the corner health-wise, the Blue Jays would be looking at a young starter with plus talent and great motivation entering his free agent offseason. The Latos situation is somewhat unique from that of a Samardzija, however, because the factor of time may work against Toronto’s strategy.
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The recent bump in velocity has been encouraging, but interested parties may want to see another two-to-three starts from the right-hander before feeling fully confident that it is sustainable. That time could also be useful to assess the health of his knee, as no team can afford to surrender prospects for two months of an injury risk.
The current state of Toronto’s rotation may force them into breaking the ice earlier than most teams, or at least it should. This potential risk, however, along with the uncharacteristically poor season, could present an opportunity for Anthopoulos to attack a high-upside arm without surrendering multiple top-10 prospects in a system that has been strengthened over the past year.
Expect to see Mat Latos’ name surface often throughout July, especially if the Marlins continue to struggle without Stanton in their lineup. He, along with every breathing pitcher, will be linked to Alex Anthopoulos and the Jays. His next starts will come against the Chicago Cubs later today and at home versus the Cincinnati Reds on July 11th.