Alex Anthopoulos of the Toronto Blue Jays has been among the most active general managers in baseball's trade market this offseason.
Next, he added undervalued reliever Carlos Villanueva from Milwaukee in exchange for a player to be named later. Just three days later, the Jays and Brewers re-convened on a deal that exchanged right hander Shawn Marcum (13-8, 3.64 ERA) for Brett Lawrie; a 21-year-old second baseman who has ranked among the top 30 prospects in baseball.
Anthopoulos' coup de grâce came on Jan. 21 when he was able to convince the Los Angeles Angels to take Vernon Wells and the $86 million he's owed over the next four seasons. In exchange, the Jays received catcher Mike Napoli and outfielder Juan Rivera.
Four days later, Napoli was flipped for Texas Rangers reliever Frank Francisco. Juan Rivera may suffer a similar fate soon.
The 32-year-old Rivera is owed $5.25 million in 2010. His WAR totals over the last five years are as folllows: .5, 3.3, -.7, 0, 2.9. This suggests a high degree of variability in his performance, (and health) but he does possess the upside of a 3 win player.
Rivera has a career .789 OPS, and he's considered an average defensive right fielder due to his strong arm. At best, he'll hit .290 for you with around 50 extra base hits (25 homers) and play respectable defense. At worst, he's a health risk and an empty roster spot that you get to pay for.
The Blue Jays never wanted to take Juan Rivera in the Vernon Wells deal, but the Angels insisted upon his inclusion.
With Jose Bautista, Adam Lind, Rajai Davis, Travis Snider and Edwin Encarnacion all rostered for 2011, playing time in the outfield or at the DH spot seems severely limited for Rivera in Toronto. That is unless Bautista, who led major league baseball with 54 home runs last season, is moved back to third base.
Rajai Davis, who can be a very good fielder due to his speed, will likely start in centerfield. Travis Snider, just 23, and the Blue Jays top hitting prospect, will likely start in right. If Rivera is traded and Bautista is moved to third, Adam Lind will start in left.
Lind put up a triple slash line of .305/.370/.562 (.932 OPS) over 587 at bats in 2009. He slugged 46 doubles and 35 homers en route to a breakout season. In 2010, Lind hit just .237 with 23 homers and a .712 OPS in 18 less at-bats. His having a bounce-back season will be vital to the Jays success.
There's no room for Juan Rivera in the Toronto Blue Jays plans. With his deal expiring at the end of the year, he'll surely be traded by at least the Jul. 31 deadline.
When healthy, Juan Rivera is a fine player. He just might find himself on his third different team this offseason merely because the situation just wasn't right.
Alex Anthopoulos is actively shopping his services. The revolving door in Toronto continues to turn.