Players The Toronto Blue Jays Should Target Through Free Agency Or Trade
So Alex Anthopoulos has found a manager in John Farrell.
Now he has to continue upgrading his team through trades and free agency.
The first thing to note is that it is highly unlikely Anthopoulos signs a Type A free agent. This is because his first-round pick is not protected, and that is what he would have to give up to sign them.
So Manny Ramirez is out of the question.
The second thing is that Anthopoulos has stated he is willing to go after Type A free agents if the price is right. I understand this, but it is highly unlikely that will happen.
Type A free agents almost always get big money. If they are not worth a lot of money, then teams would not want to give up the draft pick, either.
As a result, I see them targeting players that are not on the Type A free-agent list.
The needs of this team are not as great as some would perceive.
One upgrade needed would be catcher. This is because John Buck has already signed with the Florida Marlins (who snubbed Toronto in the Dan Uggla trade), and so we need a starting catcher.
We have a quality backup in Jose Molina, so some say we should just get JP Arencibia to start. But it is quite risky to throw a stud prospect into the fire immediately.
Also, Anthopoulos has stated that catcher and shortstop are the two most important positions. As a result, expect Anthopoulos to address the catcher position.
Another area he needs to address is the bullpen. This is the place the Blue Jays are losing the most players from.
Jason Frasor, Scott Downs and Kevin Gregg need to be replaced. That is going to cost a lot of money.
Then there is the infield. The Blue Jays need to address the first base position.
Lyle Overbay is most likely not coming back, so they need a starter there. Brett Wallace, who was supposed to be his heir, was dealt for Anthony Gose.
They also need a third baseman, as they released last year's starter in Edwin Encarnacion.
Another option to fill third base is to get a second baseman and move Aaron Hill to the hot corner. I would not recommend it, as Hill has been outstanding at second base.
He can also get an outfielder and put Bautista at third base, but that seems a bad idea as well because Bautista is excellent in right field.
Also Anthopoulos loves to stockpile starting pitchers. We saw this in the draft, as he kept picking pitcher after pitcher in the first two rounds, picking five in all.
So these are the needs. Now let's get to the players he should target.
Justin Upton is a blue-chip player.
I have no clue why the Diamondbacks are so intent on trading this budding star.
I expect him to be a five-tool talent. He can do everything, and this is why the Diamondbacks are asking for a lot in return.
To be fair, the price could be way too high as Arencibia may have to go back the other way. They are asking for as many as four prospects, including two who are practically major league ready.
That is a steep price, and a higher price than the Phillies paid for Halladay (and even there, the Phillies dealt away another ace to help mitigate the loss).
The excuse Arizona gives is that Upton is just like the rest of their offense; he lives and dies on home runs. His batting average leaves something to be desired.
Interestingly enough, a lot of people say the same about the Blue Jays, as they were just a little bit short of the record for most home runs in a season. So why would Anthopoulos come to a different conclusion?
Simply because he is just trying to add talent wherever he can.
The key to Upton is that he is a five-tool player.
He can steal bases, which is something the Blue Jays have been sorely lacking the last several years. Also he can eventually replace Vernon Wells at center field, as he will be a defensive stud.
In the end, the question becomes, "Is the price right?" If the Diamondbacks accept a package that Anthopoulos deems reasonable, he will do it.
Then the Blue Jays will have three solid outfielders in Wells, Upton and Bautista. They will then have the freedom to move Bautista to third, although in this trade they may have to give up Snider.
So who knows what the team will look like after this trade?
As there are up to 15 teams bidding for his services, the odds of the Blue Jays landing him are quite low, especially because Toronto does not have the hitters who hit for average to offer.
Most of their farm system is stocked with pitchers.
As I had stated earlier catcher is something Anthopoulos is always looking at. Getting Miguel Olivo would be a great thing. For starters he is not going to cost too much. He is a solid player but not much more. However if you are a solid catcher it is essentially equal to being an all-star in almost any other position as the catcher position is so important.
Anthopoulos traded for him by giving the Rockies cash or a player to be named later (which will most likely be a minor league player who is not that good). They then declined the club option for next year. This gave the Blue Jays a window before free agency started to start negotiating with him. Unfortunately they could not sign him. Now several teams are interested.
He batted .269 last year with 14 homeruns in only 112 games. This means he is a power hitting catcher. That is impressive to say the least. Would not shock me if this guy is this year's version of John Buck. He has all the tools, but is getting old.
Expect Olivo to get a one year contract around $2 million dollars as they have already declined his option of $2.6 million with a $500,000 buyout. There is the possibility they let him walk and get a draft pick as he is a type B free agent.
In the end I think Anthopoulos wants him signed to a one year $1.5 million contract with a club option for year 2. This guy is just supposed to be a stop gap before the coming of JP Arencibia.
The odds of acquiring Olivo are quite reasonable. Expect the Blue Jays to get him signed.
There is significant debate about whether or not the Dodgers will tender Russell Martin. He is a Canadian catcher who hits for average. Something the Blue Jays need, as all their players are homerun players and are thus forced to play a feast or famine game.
Martin may be non-tendered because he is coming off of a serious injury. He is young at 27 and would come very cheap because of his injury (unless a GM loses his mind). He can be sold on the idea to come play for the only Canadian team in the league.
Martin would get a contract similar to Olivo except Anthopoulos would seriously consider locking him up long term if his injury does not affect him this season. This way Arencibia can play first and the Blue Jays would have two positions locked up for the long term.
All this is getting ahead of ourselves. First the Rockies have to decline arbitration for Martin, and if they do that then the Blue Jays can compete for his services, and then if his injury has not affected him then they have their catcher for the foreseeable future.
In conclusion the odds of getting him are low, very low.
Carlos Pena is one of the best defenders at first base in all of baseball. I love watching him play as he makes some quite outstanding moves. He is ranked as a Type B free agent which means although Tampa will get a pick if someone else signs him, the team that signs him does not have to give up a pick.
The Blue Jays have a huge hole to fill at first base. By getting Pena they are upgrading by a lot from Lyle Overbay. Pena is a Toronto player as he hits a lot of homeruns even though his batting average leaves something to be desired.
Also he is a Tampa Bay player which means he knows how to win. Just two years ago I made a joke that Tampa is just there as a team, as luck would have it, that is the year Tampa broke out and destroyed the AL East. The fact that he played for Tampa may not seem like much but to me it is. The point of statistics is to find out which players to get in order to win. What better statistics to look at than the win-loss record of his team?
I would offer him around $8 million per year for three years or so with club options for more. He is an excellent first baseman and is coming off a rough season. As a result he can be had cheaper than he normal.
The odds of the Blue Jays signing him are low because the Rays should not let him go if he gets too cheap. However he may not want to go to a team that cannot sell out even when it makes the playoffs. But if he wanted to go to the teams that contend every year, the option will be open to him.So the Blue Jays have almost no chance of signing him.
Another excellent player. This guy is a utility player just like Jose Bautista (dare we dream?) He is a power hitter who is okay defensively. He can play pretty much anywhere in the infield and is solid at all positions. He can be had for cheap because he hasn't done too well lately.
This guy would be nothing more than a stop gap player for Anthopoulos. He can be placed at third base and expected to hit 20 homeruns with a very low average. To be fair the Blue Jays have lots of players like these but they don't have a third baseman.
The main problem with him is that he is such a bad base stealer. The Blue Jays have a huge weakness there and they must address it as there are not that many base stealers available.
The odds of the Blue Jays signing him are quite high. He is an excellent infielder who should command no more than $3 million per year. It depends on how many years he wants as it is unlikely Anthopoulos offers him more than one or two years.
Encarnacion is a solid player who was placed on waivers because the Blue Jays did not want to pay him close to $6 million which is probably what he would have gotten in arbitration. The Blue Jays however are considering bringing him back if the price is right.
I would not expect Anthopoulos to offer more than $3 million maybe for four years and club options tacked on near the end. However Anthopoulos may not see him as a long term solution and may only offer one or two years.
He has been solid with the glove in his time with the Blue Jays. He has turned a huge number of double plays (which you expect because he played on the Blue Jays). Defensively there is nothing wrong with him.
Offensively is where we get into trouble. He has a batting average below .250. This means that he cannot hit for average (like most Toronto players), however he did get 22 homeruns as a result. So we cannot ignore that he is producing somewhat okay numbers.
At the end of the day the Athletics would have to release him, something they may do. If they do expect Encarnacion to return to the Blue Jays. For the time being the odds of the Blue Jays signing him are fifty-fifty.
This is another tricky situation. Frank Francisco is projected to be a Type A free agent. This means if the Blue Jays sign him they may have to forfeit their first round pick. However, Texas has big plans, as they are targetting Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez. As a result they may not offer Francisco arbitration then nothing has to be sacrificed.
He is a dominant closer with a powerful fastball. He can be the replacement to Kevin Gregg that the Blue Jays need as they will then be able to let Gregg go for a draft pick. Even if he is not used in a closer role he can still be a dominant setup man.
I expect the Blue Jays chances of signing him to be slim to none. However if the Rangers do decline to give him arbitration then the Blue Jays chances of signing him go up significantly simply because no draft picks have to be given up. Nevertheless contending teams have a higher chance of getting him.
Orlando Hudson is a quality second baseman. No draft picks have to be given up to acquire him. He is excellent defensively and should cost less than $5 million.
He hits for average which is something the Blue Jays desperately need. As for his base stealing abilities they are okay which is something that should work for the Blue Jays. He is also outstanding defensively even though he sometimes makes the easy play look hard. This guy was also a fan favourite when he played on Toronto and so the fans would welcome him back with open arms.
The odds of the Blue Jays signing him are average. There should be plenty of suitors but expect Anthopoulos to have just as good of a shot as anyone else, if not better.
JJ Putz is a Type B free agent which means the Blue Jays will not need any draft picks. His main issue is that he gets injured, a lot. So why should the Blue Jays get him?
He is a solid reliever when healthy. Last year he played 60 games, had a 2.83 ERA, a WHIP of 1.04 and 10.83 strikeouts per nine innings. Brilliant numbers for a middle reliever.
However the year before he had an ERA of 5.22, a WHIP of 1.64 and 5.90 strikeouts per nine innings. Not quite as brilliant. However, this allows him to be cheaper. He could be paid around $3 million just like he was in 2010.
The Blue Jays chances of signing him are low as lots of contending teams want relievers that are affordable. He would fit the bill to a T.
Anthopoulos wants pitchers that are big and look intimidating. Webb fits that bill, except he spends more time on the DL than anywhere else. He missed all of last season due to shoulder surgery.
However, he was the CY Young winner in the NL not too long ago. This is because of his unbelievable sinker and fastballs. Sound familiar? A former Blue Jay that was dealt recently. Yes I am making comparisons to Roy Halladay. Both are sinker pitchers, and their sinkers and fastballs can be unhittable for long periods of time thus allowing them to dominate.
He is going to be cheap so you never know who will be interested. On the other hand, considering he just came off of shoulder surgery, will Anthopoulos want him? I expect the answer to be yes.
I expect the Blue Jays to have an excellent chance at signing him as no draft picks will be required. And I highly recommend they pursue him.
No I am not recommending him just because he is Canadian. However that is something Toronto can exploit to market and make more money so they can spend more. Bedard was a dominant pitcher on Baltimore, as he destroyed the AL East year after year. When he left he never was the same again. Injuries took a huge toll on him as he suffered greatly to the point he missed all of last season with surgery.
He can return to the AL East where he had his biggest successes. And this time he can play for a team that can afford to give him solid help defensively and offensively. Also he won't be required to carry the load.
The point of this signing is not to get a front line starter. Like Webb this is a high risk high reward scenario. So if even one of them returns to form we have a front line ace to build around or get draft picks from.
If Anthopoulos wants him I think he could very easily get Bedard to sign a ludicrously cheap contract. I would recommend it of course. Expect something at or below $3 million for one year.
Realize I am not recommending the Blue Jays sign all these pitchers. If they get a certain amount they should stop. With that in mind I still think you can never have too many pitchers.
Kerry Wood is a decent closer, but showed that he can excel as a setup man. That is probably where he rightfully belongs. He can dominate hitters and that is why he can be a closer but he is more suited for a setup role.
For the Blue Jays this is perfect because this fellow got a 0.69 ERA in hitter friendly Yankee Stadium. So he knows a thing or two about being a reliever. Expect him to get a two year deal between $2 million and $4 million.
Highly unlikely that the Yankees let him go, but then again when you have bigger fish to fry (Rivera, Jeter, Lee) you may ignore him. However, lots of contenders are looking for relievers so don't expect the Blue Jays to be able to get any of these relievers at all.
He had a terrible year. This means the Blue Jays can pick him up on the cheap. If he works out, great. If not o well. He is a risk reward proposition at RP.
He has shown in the past he can be a solid reliever. Don't expect too much out of him. Just expect him to go out there and get the job done on most nights.
I think this may be the only RP that Anthopoulos is favoured to get in free agency. He should be a Blue Jay by the time this is all over.
He has the potential to dominate at the major league level. Don't expect him to be a star immediately as it can take some time. However he will dominate earlier than Anthony Gose. He was a first round draft pick of the Kansas City Royals so naturally he was a high first round pick.
He can steal bases, and that is huge for a team that sucks in that area. Furthermore he can play outfield or third base which are two areas of needs. His third base defense isn't that great so it is more likely he is placed in the outfield thus allowing Bautista to move to third base. This assumes when we trade for him we don't have to give up an outfielder such as Snider.
He is a young controllable player, which means his salary will be low for a while and thus he will lower the costs of fielding a competitive team.
I expect the Blue Jays to have almost no shot of acquiring him alone. However that is not the only option.
He is one of the most dominant closers in MLB. He is only 26 years old and he is locked up until the 2014 season with his maximum salary being $8.75 million. In other words he has excellent value.
The Royals are unlikely to trade him, but they are not going to compete for a while. They may as well get back some pieces in exchange for this phenom they have. He has been to two all star games and has at least 30 saves in the last three years.
Once again the Blue Jays are probably not going to be able to acquire him individually, but is that the only option?
You knew I was going to get to him right? Come on! He is one of the best young pitchers in baseball and yet he is available via trade. He has two years left at $13.5 million.
Greinke was phenomenal last year as he won the CY Young Award. Unfortunately he followed up that performance with a pretty bad year in which his ERA was 4.17. Even then he pitched 220 innings. He is slowly going to become a perennial CY Young contender soon. Getting him would get the Blue Jays the front of the rotation starter they haven't had since, well Roy Halladay.
So the Royals are asking for a King's ransom for Greinke. They are asking for a package similar to Halladay. To give that up is going to be difficult, unless...
Acquire Gordon, Soria, and Greinke In a Package
Thought me leaving the three trade candidates from Kansas to the very end was coincidence? Of course it wasn't. As an eminent psychologist once said, there are no coincidences. He was right of course.
Although individual packages may be too high by getting a package deal for all three the Jays may be able to include players they couldn't for the individual players. As a result there is a much better chance to get them.
What are odds of this happening? So low I have no clue if it happens at all. With that in mind, nothing is impossible. If Anthopoulos acquires these three in a blockbuster trade I would be ecstatic.
Don't expect most of these plans to come to fruition, just expect Anthopoulos to pursue these avenues. These are some solid players that are available and the price may just be right to put the Blue Jays back into the playoffs. After all that is the first part of our goal. The second part is to win a World Series, but I get ahead of myself there.