So, the first big domino has fallen in this, the Trade Deadline period of the MLB season. The Oakland Athletics have sent Scott Kazmir to the Houston Astros. The return doesn’t seem to be that costly at first glance. The question is: with the Blue Jays’ glaring need for starting pitching, could they have offered a similar, or better package to land Kazmir?
Toronto Blue Jays
The pitching troubles of the Blue Jays is widely known. Everyone knows they need a starter (or two). And, we also know that GM, Alex Anthopoulos has been busy making calls and whatnot. The presence of scouts in Blue Jays’ minor league games tells us as much. What we are not aware of is just what is being asked of the Ninja GM. We can guess, but at the end of the day, we never know exactly what the cost of doing business is.
It turns out that the cost of doing business with the Athletics to get Kazmir was two minor leaguers. That’s it. The Astros sent Jacob Nottingham and Daniel Mengden. If you’re like me, you said, “Who?”. According to MiLB.com’s Sam Dykstra, these two are on Houston’s Top 30 prospects list, but not that high.
Nottingham is a 20 year old taken in the 6th round of the 2013 draft. He’s a power hitting catcher who started the season in A ball and was promoted to A+. He’s got 14 HR and 60 RBI in 76 games. According to Dykstra, Nottingham’s best tool is his power, which was a 55 before this season. He
was Houston’s ranked 22nd in Houston’s top 30.
Mengden is a 22 year old taken in the 4th round in 2014. He’s a right handed starter who also started in A ball but made it to A+. At 6-2, 3.46 in 14 starts, he looks to be a good pick up. He was Houston’s #19 prospect. He started the season with 5 straight scoreless starts, but has a 5.26 ERA at the higher level.
So, for Houston’s 22 and 19 prospects, they get to rent Kazmir for the remainder of the season. Could it be that teams so value years of control that the price of a rental has dropped? Regardless, this surely is a deal that the Blue Jays could have made. Want a power hitting A+ 20 year old? How about Rowdy Tellez? He’s showing good power numbers this season. He ended last season in Lansing hitting .357. Want a pitcher? How about Alberto Tirado? He’s 4-1, 2.47 in Dunedin. Though, he’s only totaled 58 innings in 29 games as a reliever. Conner Greene (Round 7 in 2013) has made 18 starts in total this year between Lansing and Dunedin where he’s compiled a 7-6, 3.97 mark.
Heck, if it gives the Blue Jays a boost into the playoffs, I’d offer all three of these guys. That is not even to mention that there may be much more appealing options in this system. Isn’t there a combination that could have made this deal work? Probably. The fact of the matter is, the deal didn’t get done.
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We may not know why. Maybe it was a “first come, first served” situation with quick working Billy Beane. Although, it is weird that he made the deal within his own division. You’d think the price would be even higher in that case. Maybe AA had his sights elsewhere, like a player with longer team control. Maybe the two teams never even exchanged more than a passing conversation. Or, maybe the cost was too high.
Whatever the situation is, the Blue Jays are not going to get every player out there. It is not as easy as some think it is. Pulling off a trade of consequence is not a daily occurrence. If there is a deal that makes sense for the Blue Jays, you can bet AA will jump on it. This one may not have made sense for him. What it does signal is the start to what should be a wild week in baseball. Let’s hope the Blue Jays can at least join the party.