The Arizona Diamondbacks and Oakland A's unofficially kicked off the 2010 pre-deadline trading activity this week. With the D-Backs running up the white flag on 2010 and putting out word that almost everyone on their roster can be had, the trade market should be on the verge of getting busy. The Kansas City Royals are also putting it out there that they too are willing to shop several of their veteran pieces.
With those two teams and the Baltimore Orioles open for business, now is the time for the Blue Jays to start putting their veteran pieces up for sale. There's been plenty of speculation around the league that most teams will be tight on money this season and not looking to take on large contracts as they look to add pieces for playoff runs. The Jays then would be wise to act now before more teams become sellers and the market becomes more flooded and returns are diminished.
Luckily, the Blue Jays have a nice mix of cheap, veteran talent that won't bring back a large haul of top level prospects, but shouldn't be hard to move either. Moving some of these guys sooner, as in now, as opposed to later (late July), would potentially increase the quality of the prospects the Jays get in return since the players they're sending out will be with their new clubs longer. It will also free up playing time and fuel promotions, and take the Jays' youth movement on to the next step.
Here then is a look at who could be on the move and why:
Buck has done a nice job offensively for the Jays this year, hitting .265 with a booming .271 isolated power and a dozen homers. He's signed to a cheap two million dollar, one-year deal that shouldn't be a problem for most teams to take on. Buck turns 30 in July and mediocre catchers in their twenties don't usually become anything more than that in their thirties.
He shouldn't factor into the Jays' long term plans and his performance this season has allowed top catching prospect J.P. Arencibia more time to develop in the minors. Arencibia looks ready for a promotion; he's been better offensively this season than the highly touted Brett Wallace . Yes, for all the clamoring to see Wallace come and all the concern over J.P., Arencibia has performed better at the plate than Wallace this season. He's ready and Buck should be on the move so the kid can come up.
Many Blue Jays fans seemingly can't wait for Overbay to head out of town so the Brett Wallace Era can begin in Toronto. But Overbay has afforded Wallace more time at Triple-A, where he's been good but not great this season. After almost being traded in the offseason, Overbay almost certainly is the one guy who will be dealt before the deadline.
After a rough start to the season Overbay couldn't have picked a better time to get hot. Through fourteen games in June he's hitting .354 with a 12.7 percent walk rate and an isolated power of .146. His resurgence will provide some comfort to potential teams that all is well with Overbay and he can produce like he has in recent years.
Overbay is an attractive piece because he's a veteran player who hits righties and plays solid defense at first. He has short term value off the bench as a pinch hitter, DH, platoon partner, and defensive replacement. And he's a free agent after this season. It's possible the Jays may have to pay some of Overbay's remaining salary as he's owed a little under $4 million for the rest of the season at this point.
Him leaving also opens the door for Wallace and should ease the potential log jam in the outfield when Travis Snider comes off the DL. Both Jose Bautista and Adam Lind could see time at first if Wallace is not deemed to be quite ready.
Even though he hasn't been around in Toronto for long he could bring back a player or two from a team looking to shore up their outfield for the stretch run. Lewis could easily be pitched as a cheap alternative to the Royals' David DeJesus, who is owed roughly five times more for the rest of the season than Lewis. At 29-years-old he could be useful to the Jays for two to four years and at a low cost as well. 2011 will be just his first year of arbitration eligibility.
But that same cost control coupled with Lewis' decent performance should make him attractive to more than a few clubs. Lewis has done a little bit of everything for the Jays. In just over 200 at-bats he has four homers, five steals and 21 doubles. He should bounce back to his career walk rate of 9.4 percent soon, which would go nicely with his current .291 batting average and .189 ISO.
His defense limits him full-time to left field, but he could play center or right in a pinch. With the way he's played, coupled with his low cost, the Jays can't go wrong whether they keep him or deal him.
With thirty starts and nine relief appearances between this year and 2009, Tallet 's versatility could have value to a contender. Tallet isn't going to go somewhere and single-handedly vault a team over the hump. But his ability to soak up two or three innings here and there out of the 'pen would spare a contender from burning through its better pitchers in one-sided affairs. He could also step in and make a few spot starts as well if need be.
His numbers on the year aren't great with a 4.99 ERA and a 5.70 FIP in 30 and two-thirds innings. Tallet has struck out 7.04 batters per nine while walking a modest 3.23 per nine. In his first two relief outings he's pitched three and one-third innings, allowing no runs on one hit while striking out five and walking one. It's an absurdly small sample size, but at least he looks to be adapting to the role.
Tallet is owed roughly one million dollars for the rest of the season and will be eligible for his last year of arbitration in 2011. He could easily be non-tendered after the season and the club trading for him wouldn't owe him anything after 2010.
The Jays aren't going to get a huge return on the guys they can move, but GM Alex Anthopoulos did pick up an interesting piece in Ronald Uviedo for the incredibly ineffective Dana Eveland. Not to be overlooked either is the valuable MLB playing time for guys like Arencibia, Wallace, and so on that would come from moving out the veterans. The Jays are all about the future and right now is the time to start making some moves with 2012 in mind.