After an offseason in which they traded away several of their top prospects —catcher Travis d'Arnaud, center fielder Jake Marisnick and pitchers Justin Nicolino and Noah Syndergaard— in an effort to upgrade their 25-man roster for 2013, the Blue Jays aren't going to give up on the season anytime soon despite a rough start.
At 20-28 and dead last in the AL East, the Blue Jays are already 9.5 games behind the 1st place Yankees and 7.5 games out of a playoff spot. They've won 10 of 17, however, and shortstop Jose Reyes (15-for-38, 5 SB in 10 games before injury) could return from an ankle injury in late June. A lineup with Reyes in front of Jose Bautista (11 HR, 27 RBI) and Edwin Encarnacion (13 HR, 38 RBI) could be the spark that pushes the team back into contention.
And if not? Well, that opens up a whole new set of fun and exciting trade possibilities we can discuss if the Jays go into "sell" mode. Not that I'd expect them to do what the Marlins did and get rid of every offseason acquisition, not to mention one of their longtime stars (Hanley Ramirez), because the team played poorly. But they have some serious trade chips on this team with none bigger than Bautista.
The 32 year-old, who signed a five-year, $64 million contract extension (2011-2015, plus 2016 club option) before the 2011 season, has been one of the top sluggers in the game since his 54-homer season back in 2010. He's posted a .989 OPS over his last 442 games so we're well beyond the point of thinking that his breakout season at 29 years of age was a fluke.
Two-and-a-half seasons of Bautista for roughly $35 million (plus a $14 million option for 2016) is a bargain in regards to dollars but acquiring him would cost a ton of young talent in return. Here are four teams that could have interest and what it would likely cost those teams to acquire Bautista.