David Price is a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. The trade earlier this afternoon that sent Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd and Jairo Labourt to the Detroit Tigers gives the Blue Jays something that they’ve lacked since the Roy Halladay era. An ace. In flooding the farm system with young pitching talent over recent years, general manager Alex Anthopoulos provided the organization with a form of currency that every team covets in a deal such as this.
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Toronto’s wealth of pitching prospects allowed the club to add two perennial All Stars without touching Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Roberto Osuna, Dalton Pompey or Anthony Alford. Impressive. Anthopoulos’ strategy of loading up on arms, and the ability of Toronto’s scouts to identify talent, allows for this deal to happen without leaving the cupboard entirely bare.
It’s important to compare the return package to the one surrendered by Kansas City for Johnny Cueto, one of the market’s other big fish. Both packages consist of three left-handed pitchers, and that’s not necessarily a coincidence. As David Price shows, high-end left-handed pitching is a rare commodity in the MLB, but can bring incredible results. Much like a defensively talented shortstop or catcher, a left-handed pitching prospect has that extra edge of value.
Anthopoulos selected pitching with six of his first eight selections in the 2015 Draft, and will surely take the same route next season to begin the re-stocking process. 2014 saw him add Jeff Hoffman and Sean Reid-Foley, whose immense potential allowed Anthopoulos to depart with his top young arms while still feeling comfortable.
This farm system needs a collective year of growth for the current prospects to develop into top-10 talents, but in some sense, the Jays have that time. We can’t predict what the club will need one year from today, but with the return of Stroman and the potential for free agent additions, these trade chips may not become necessary for some time.
While we shouldn’t hold our breath about Price re-signing in Toronto, this is the right move. Blue Jays fans have gone emotionally all-in for years on rosters that weren’t built with the same passion for winning, but not this season. The Jays now have their number one, a great rarity in baseball, and their potential Wild Card game starter.
The farm system has taken a serious hit, one that could come back to haunt the Jays in the form of Hoffman or Norris, but the return has been incredible. For better or worse, we’ll be talking about this roster for years.