According to acclaimed baseball analyst Jeff Passan of Fangraphs, the Toronto Blue Jays have some serious interest in Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco.
Carrasco, if you don’t know, is a 28-year-old right-handed pitcher who’s made some noise in his brief career in the major leagues. This season, he’s the owner of a deceiving 3.94 ERA and 2.81 FIP producing a whopping 2.8 WAR per Fangraphs. His K/9 innings are the highest of his career and is making a minscule $2.337 million dollars with his salary only marginally increasing until 2018.
The first thought likely going through my mind, and admittedly many other like-minded Jays fans’ minds, is why the (insert your favourite expletive here) would the Indians make Carrasco available at the deadline to begin with?
The first question would be injury concerns, which, is apparently why he signed such a team friendly contract in the first place. To go with heart and elbow problems, Carrasco had a newborn baby to think about when inking his multi-million dollar deal through arbitration last off-season and thus decided to get guaranteed money.
Since then he’s done nothing but pitch while playing a very clever game of hide-and-seek with the disabled list. According to Baseball Prospectus’ injury database, Carrasco hasn’t missed a game since recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2012.
Instead he’s pitched. Last season, Carrasco owned a 2.55 ERA in 134 innings, worth 3.1 WAR. To compare, that’s right in line with Marcus Stroman who was worth 3.0 WAR in 130 innings. The disparity between the two hurlers is that Carrasco, at least on the most recent level, strikes out far more batters per nine than Stroman did. This year, Carrasco ranks ninth in K/9 innings among starters.
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Another indication of Carrasco’s improved health is his average fastball velocity since returning from TJ. In 2013, his first season back, he averaged 95.63 mph on his fastball, over 2 mph faster than before he went under the knife. After increasing to 96.29 last season, Carrasco has returned to his 2013 form, averaging 95.65 mph on the heater; a drop not insignificant but not worthy of losing sleep over either.
After such long-form praise, it’s time to imagine the hypothetical asking price for the conversation that clearly no one reading this was privy to. As Passan and Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal note,”it may take quite a haul to get him.” It’s of this writer’s imagination that a package of prospects including Daniel Norris and Dalton Pompey should be a decent starting point with the possibility of including others like Matt Boyd to ice the cake if needed.
Carlos Carrasco makes a lot of sense for the Jays. He shouldn’t cost both Jeff Hoffman and Norris and should be able to add noticeable value down the stretch assuming he can exceed his 2014 workload of 134 innings pitched. Secondly, he’s the type of pitcher who can contribute beyond 2015 for a marginal financial cost.
Right now, fans, writers, analysts can only guess as to the package it would take to acquire Carrasco. What do you think, is the aforementioned price too much or just enough to make a real run at October glory?