The Toronto Blue Jays were widely expected to make a couple moves at the trade deadline this season. Several Jays vets were thought to be in play. But their first move in the last 72 hours before the deadline involved a top prospect, Brett Wallace, instead. An interesting turn of events to say the least - many expected Wallace to come up and play for the Jays at some point this season.
Wallace ironically leaves the Blue Jays organization in much the same way he arrived this past winter. He was originally dealt to Toronto from Oakland as part of a three-team deal that saw Roy Halladay head to Philadelphia. Now he's been sent to Houston as part of a three-team deal that has landed Roy Oswalt in Philly.
Irony and surprise, one would assume, were not motivating factors in this deal. The prospect the Jays got from Houston, via Philly, is a raw but extremely talented nineteen-year old. Anthony Gose was a second-round selection in the 2008 draft. He both hits and throws left handed.
Blue Jays GM, Alex Anthopoulos, said today on FAN590 that he believes Gose has the ability in the field to remain a center fielder. He has struggled in his minor league career to this point, but at 19 and several years away from the majors, his numbers aren't overly important just yet. However, his 76 steals in 96 attempts last year is worth mentioning.
True center field prospects, much like shortstops and catchers, are not easy to come by. Not that first base prospects like Wallace are readily available, but finding someone to play first for the Jays in the future is much easier than finding someone to slot into center. What makes this deal tough to cope with for Jays fans is the drastic difference in Wallace's and Gose's timeline to arrive in the show.
Anthopoulos has now pulled off three moves this season with the intent of building depth in the up the middle positions. The signing of Cuban shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria and the trade for 27-year old shortstop Yunel Escobar were the first two. The one up the middle position he hasn't touched, catcher, is perhaps the best stocked offensive position in the entire organization.
Rumors have sprung up quickly since this deal went down that Lance Berkman of the Astros will be on the move, and Wallace will get his shot at some serious Major League playing time. The Jays might have shipped out a solid first base prospect, but they have a glut of corner outfield/DH-type hitters in Adam Lind, Fred Lewis, Travis Snider, Jose Bautista, and even current center fielder, Vernon Wells.
Wells and his mammoth contract will be around for several more years and both Lewis and Bautista could be kept around at low cost for a few years as well. That would seem to leave Lind and Snider looking for a spot to play and first base might just end up being a home for one of them.
Whether this deal turns out to work to the Jays benefit won't be known for years to come. No matter how well or poorly Wallace plays in Houston, Gose won't be able to deliver on his own promise for sometime. Even more than that, what ends up happening with the Jays first base situation over the next three or four seasons will also be a factor in determining whether Anthopoulos pulled a smart move.
The trade will come under a good deal of scrutiny in the coming days. If Wallace gets off to a hot start in Houston, the scrutiny won't get any quieter in Toronto either. Anthopoulos deserves credit for not shying away from a bold move. They don't always work out but to be successful you have to have a plan and the fortitude to execute it and stick with it. It would seem Anthopoulos is doing just that.
With all that in the mind, the one thing that cannot be determined is if the Blue Jays "won" this trade or not. On the surface both teams are "winners" simply because the trade happened and it takes two to tango. Both Houston and Toronto will walk away from this deal with a sense of accomplishment. It's a complicated matter that won't be settled for sometime in finding out what exactly was accomplished.