With the Blue Jays in obvious need of at least one quality, established Major League starter to add to their 2013 rotation, they’ll be looking to both the trade and free agent markets to make an acquisition. A week ago we looked at the free agent market for pitching, and now it’s time for the much more difficult task of trying to find what may be available in trade, starting today by looking at the American League…

AL Central


I’ll do it anyway, but the American League Central is about as poor a division as any in which to begin scouring the Majors for potential starting pitchers to acquire in an off-season trade, as three of the five teams are essentially bereft of starters themselves. The Twins dealt free-agent-to-be Francisco Liriano this summer, and will likely lose Carl Pavano and Scott Baker to free agency as well, leaving the surprisingly effective Scott Diamond as their top holdover starter, with not a whole lot in behind him. In Kansas City, with apologies to Bruce Chen, the Royals don’t have adequate pitching assets of their own, let alone any kind of surplus to deal from, and while Cleveland has Justin Masterson, they don’t have much else in this department, and the impetus to deal their top pitcher would seem likely to be quite low.

So… we’re left looking at basically just the two division leaders, Detroit and Chicago.

The Tigers have four solid arms– Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello– healthy, productive, and under contract for next season. Top pitching prospect Jacob Turner may have been able to step into this group as well, had he not been dealt mid-season to Miami for Anibal Sanchez. With Sanchez just a rental, assuming he isn’t re-signed, the Tigers will be looking for some kind of rotation help this winter. It’s possible that they will add more than one starter, which could push one of the two youngsters, Porcello and Scherzer, onto the market (if so, I’d suspect the former), but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

For the White Sox, both Jake Peavy and Gavin Floyd have options, with only the latter’s being cheap. Chris Sale, John Danks and Jose Quintana (that creep can roll) all seem set for the rotation, and with the club’s payroll down $30-million this year from its 2011 level, you’d think that at least Floyd will be back, and if not Peavy himself, another addition will be made, potentially making Floyd movable.


There isn’t not a whole lot here, as Floyd’s name has been rumbled about since last winter to no effect, and he’s done the White Sox no favours by pitching to a 4.80 FIP this season. Scherzer would be a fantastic pick-up, as he’s seen an uptick in velocity this year, his strikeout rate has gone up, batters are swinging and missing on him more, and he’s got a pair of under-market arbitration years left before free agency. But, obviously, it’s for all of those reasons that Tigers would be reluctant to move him. Porcello could possibly come a little more easily, and cheaply, but it’s not like there is a whole lot the Jays have that would appear to be a fit for a team eyeing MLB-ready pieces in preparation for another playoff run in 2013– especially when that team has Victor Martinez and Alex Avila at catcher, a left side of the infield that appears set, and– if you really want to stretch the definition of what the Jays can offer that’s Major League-ready– a spectacular centre fielder.


AL East


Concerns about trading within your division ususally tend to get a little overblown, mostly because there’s a serious gut-punch aspect that looms over them, with the possibility that you may wind up making a deal that will help one of the clubs you can least afford to see get better, at your own expense. I mean, imagine having made the Aaron Hill for Kelly Johnson deal with the Baltimore Orioles instead of the Arizona Diamondbacks. PUKE!

Yet, if a GM is convinced that a trade makes sense, and makes his club better, there’s really no good reason to let that trepidation force him into taking a lesser deal from a club outside his division, so we’d better explore what’s available in the AL East, just to be safe.

The Yankees seem to not have a lot of moving parts in their rotation, with CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova returning, Hiroki Kuroda likely to re-up, and Michael Pineda heading back from injury as well. If anything, they’ll be looking to add, not subtract. The Orioles have old number one, Wei-Yin Chen, and Jason “Cole” Hammel coming back, plus Dylan Bundy coming fast, and Jake Arrietta and Chris Tillman having better seasons than you probably think. There’s not a lot of surplus here, unless you’re really interested in Tommy Hunter or Brian Matuz, which… you shouldn’t be.

The Red Sox’ roster could potentially be in flux, and it’s possible they might look to move someone like Josh Beckett, or maybe even Jon Lester, but I think there’s too much cost and too much risk involved for those to be realistic possibilities. Tampa, on the other hand, has pitching that ought to be available. Ken Rosenthal wrote this week at Fox Sports that the Rays should consider moving David Price in exchange for a boatload of young talent, and while you never know with the Rays, I’d imagine such a scenario is pretty unlikely, and that Price, Matt Moore and Jeremy Hellickson will be back next year to anchor their rotation. Two of Alex Cobb, Chris Archer, and Jeff Niemann could very nicely round out that group, provide some depth, and also allow the Rays to save some money by moving a seventh starter, “Big Game” James Shields.


Shields still has two option years left on his contract, at a price ($21-million) that is definitely palatable to a club like the Jays, and potentially too much for the cash-strapped Rays– though with Carlos Pena, BJ Upton, Kyle Farnsworth and others coming off the books, it’s certainly not like they need to deal. What the Rays do need, however, is more production from behind the plate, as the club’s catchers have combined to hit for a .255 wOBA in 2012. Now, clearly JP Arencibia would only be enough to start a conversation, but maybe then add a reliever or two to help offset the potential loss of bullpen free-agents-to-be Farnsworth, Joel Peralta and JP Howell, and perhaps you could find a prospect package to seal a deal that genuinely helps both clubs.


AL West

The AL West seems in the abstract like it would be a good division for the Jays to pry some pitching away from, as there’s no worry about giving up great pieces to a team they’re fighting for a division title with, yet they’d at least be acquiring a pitcher who has a track record of success in the American League. But like just about every other division, there isn’t really a club with a tremendous amount of surplus pitching who might be looking to deal, nor is there anyone– even, perhaps, the currently red hot Mariners– who seems all that likely to make their 2013 club worse by dealing an established pitcher for prospects– which, of course, represents the Jays’ biggest and best reservoir of trade capital. That said, there may be some possibilities…

The Angels have Jered Weaver and CJ Wilson locked up, with Dan Haren heading into an option year and likely to be back. Zack Greinke will be a free agent, though, and Ervin Santana has been below replacement level this season, meaning the club is more likely looking to add than subtract.

The equation for the Rangers is a little bit different: while Ryan Dempster, Roy Oswalt and the now-injured Colby Lewis are free agents, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Yu Darvish look set for 2013, and Scott Feldman has a $9-million option that may get picked up. Neftali Feliz will eventually be back in some capacity, Martin Perez is a ready-made cheap option, and Alexi Ogando could possibly return to the rotation as well. That’s a lot of names, but we saw this year that Texas is just fine with having a wild amount of pitching– and that sometimes they need it, and then some.

There is always the pipe dream of prying Felix Hernandez away from the Mariners, but he’s under contract for two more years, and it would be an extremely hard pill for the Mariners to swallow to deal him this off-season and essentially admit that they’re hopeless until 2015 at the earliest. Beyond him there’s Safeco creation Jason Vargas, free-agent-to-be Kevin Millwood, and– with apologies to Blake Beavan and Hisashi Iwakuma– not a whole lot else. The A’s, though, always seem open to dealing, and have some intriguing arms they may be able to spare, even though they’re set to lose Bartolo Colon and Brandon McCarthy to free agency.

Jarrod Parker is having a terrific first year in Oakland, while Tommy Millone has been decent, if only at home, Travis Blackely has been a nice surprise, while AJ Griffin and Dan Straily are up-and-comers, and Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden both returning from injury– Braden has recently suffered a setback, though it’s too soon yet to suggest his 2013 is in jeopardy.


Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli will come off the books for Texas if they don’t re-sign, which could theoretically put the Rangers into the market for a free agent starter and make some of the current staff available, but even if Napoli leaves and they non-tender Geovany Soto (who’ll likely get a raise in arbitration on the $4.3-million he’s making), I don’t think Jon Daniels is crazy enough to be tempted by catching help into dealing someone like Derek Holland, despite his having a down year.

Looking at things another way, the Mariners have three outstanding pitching prospects getting very close– including James Paxton, who we know the Jays had a bit of a thing for– so if Seattle wants to go down the Pineda-for-Montero-type road again, and the Jays aren’t as insistent on acquiring an established pitcher as we’re maybe thinking, maybe something works there (um… Jake Marisnick, anyone?).

Most intriguingly, though, I think is the possibility of an A’s pitcher, and specifically Anderson. He’s not without health risk, as he’s coming off of Tommy John surgery that was performed mid-2011, following a 2010 that was plagued by elbow issues also. Because his surgery was mid-season he’s just now getting back into action in the Majors, giving us a chance to see him down the stretch. Still, there may be lingering questions about his health that drive the price down this winter, and he makes $5.75-million next year, with club options for $8- and $12-million the following two years, which may have Oakland viewing him more as a trade chip than a long-term piece, especially with other arms performing nicely in his absence.

Comments (70)

  1. Anderson could come cheap as a package of jpa plus B type prospect could get it done

  2. I guess you’ll do the NL later on but I still like Gallardo from the Brewers. 3 years of control, reasonable cost in terms of payroll and the teams have a history of trades. The team situation seems like they’re a possible rebuild candidate and they have a fairly high payroll at least in historical terms for them which might provide additional motivation for them to move him.

    As you said for the AL the A’s certainly seem the best partner for such a trade. The years of control for Anderson and the money are similar to Gallardo and his away splits are very good.

    I guess the one thing this past winter showed is that those guys that you thought were relative untouchables aren’t always I did a very similar exercise to this last fall over on the MLB boards and I couldn’t dream of a team trading cheap controllable guys away guys like Latos, Gonzales or Pineda.

  3. I thought Escobar could go for Anderson but considering how cheaply Drew just went for, maybe the A’s will settle for less that Escobar. I like the idea of Anderson though.

    • Drew is a free agent to be who has had an atrocious 2012 and who cleared waivers. His value does little to demonstrate anyone else’s market value and doesn’t change the A’s need for an Escobar-type shortstop for 2013 and beyond.

  4. I remember reading an article in the oakland newspaper about escobar back in july. One sentence basically said the jays liked anderson. He would be an interesting fit and the type of guy I could see AA go after. The durability part does concern me though. Its not like this team needs more injury risks after this year.

    • Anderson will be one to watch tonight and for the rest of the season with his first start back. Would love to see the Jays trade for someone like him, sign someone like Jackson and resign Villanueva. Alvarez can head back to the minors, hopefully Buffalo, and refine his off speed stuff.

  5. Also, one other pitching (free agent) name to keep an eye on: Jeremy Guthrie. The jays like him and he apparently likes toronto. I’d be disappointed if he was the sole addition on the starting pitching side, but if AA decides to go after 2 starters he would not be a bad addition to the bottom of the rotation. He wouldnt cost that much either I dont think.

    • I am OK with Guthrie if it is a minor league deal.

    • He certainly seems to have righted himself from his failed mountain man adventure. Still I’d rather go with Carlos.

      • Yea, but even for depth purposes, Guthrie wouldnt be a bad add. You can never have enough decent pitching as this year showed.

        • Yeah, and he did put up above replacement numbers in the AL East. So there’s that….

        • I can’t see him signing with a team for depth with so many teams in dire need of pitching which is why I hope the Jays come to their senses and resign Villanueva now while it’s still cost effective to do so. The whole bit about him being a 6 inning pitcher is so much BS imo. Even if he is, so what? 6 very effective innings from your 5th starter is a problem a lot of teams would love to have. I’d rather have that than a pitcher than goes 7 but allows 2 more runs per game. Chances are unless you’re running Coco out there in the 7th every time you’re not going to allow 2 runs the majority of the time.

          • You talk about it like he’s shown he can be effective over the course of a season.

          • You need a back up option if you sign Carlos as your 5th starter.

            • You need a backup option with anyone. A lot of them.

              If Carlos V wasn’t a free agent, I don’t see any reason why the Jays wouldn’t put him in the rotation next year to start at least.

              Will they pay him enough to keep him is the question. If they do, I don’t know why you wouldn’t start him.

          • Sure there’s some risk there in that regard but I think there’s more than enough upside there if you got him for the money I was thinking about which was $5-6 million a year over 3 years. As he said in his interview he started really paying attention to his conditioning this year.

            As for depth behind him, in my scenario you’d have Alvarez, Happ, Cecil and potentially Laffey. Throw in Jenkins too if you’d like.

          • Cecil’s days as a starter should be just about done here. (Here being a year ago.)

          • Regarding Cecil, that’s probably true but he’d be an emergency starter at best 3rd to 5th on the list. None of the guys I mentioned, with the exception of Alvarez and that depends on a lot of things, don’t have all that much upside imo. Definitely not enough to want to have to use any of them for more than a start or two. That reason also plays into my desire for the Jays to get 3 starters (if you include resigning Carlos) this winter. That would push Alvarez down, Happ into long relief and the first guy to fill in as a starter. Anything after that would probably be a result of something similar to what happened this year. If that was the case then it’s likely that it won’t matter anyway.

            • Seriously, so after a single challenging season the band wagon has jumped off the 22year old who has a plus FASTBALL and sinker with a plus change. Really let’s let him regroup over the winter, continue to make adjustments develop consistency with his slider and see what we have in the spring. This was his first MLB season people.
              Other than that I agree with Anderson and Gallardo as potential trade targets. I also think that the JJ rumours may have been true like the Rasmus, Lawrie, Escobar and KJ rumours were true. I say go for whatever deal does not cost you too many of the wave of low A arms we have coming up. Syndergaard and Sanchez are almost untouchable for me. Osuna, Nicolino Norris and Tirado are pretty close to it too.

              • I’m definitely not off the Alvarez bandwagon. I just think he needs another pitch. Without it I’m not sure he’ll ever add much more value than a Guthrie or Happ.

                MLB lineups will kill him if he’s working on that 3rd pitch in the bigs. Work on it in the minors and hopefully come back in late 2013 with 3 or 4 plus pitches. Then you got a serious value add for the big club.

          • I’m hardly off the bandwagon and I’ve posted about how I think he’s been better than some of the numbers show before but he still needs more polishing. Considering winning a championship is the goal I’d rather have him do it in the minors than at the major league level. If he has to be the 5th starter for budget reasons then so be it. There would certainly be worse.

    • Good call.

      Not a franchise changing pickup by any means but wouldn’t mind him fighting for a spot in the rotation.

      Guthrie vs. Happ for the #5 spot would be an epic spring training battle. (but not really)

  6. Why not Niemann as an in-division target? A couple of years of (probably) relatively cheap control and a good, albeit short, history as an innings-eater. Maybe it would take more to get him than Shields, though?

  7. What do we do with Jenkins long term?

    Give him another shot at AA pitching as a starter?

    • I think a lot will depend on what they decide to do with Happ and Villanueva. Will they leave him Happ as fifth starter? I hope not. Will they even offer him arbitration? Will they resign Carlos? If they resign Carlos and have Happ as your swing man as I hope they do, then he could probably go to AAA next year if it’s in Buffalo. If they decide to economize and move Happ in some sort of package along with a Lansing pitcher for a top starter then Jenkins could easily move into the swing man slot permanently. I wanted them to try and break Jenkins or McGuire into the pen last winter. If some of these guys don’t pan out as more than 5th starters some of them have the chance to make very cheap pen additions.

  8. JPA+Anthony Gose+Cash for James Shields.

  9. Peavy has a club option for 22 million next year. Safe to assume they’ll not pick that up and he’ll be an FA.

    • If the Sox decline the option, can they still offer him a qualifying, or can we get him without giving up a draft pick?

      • If we continue our downward spiral record-wise and finish in the bottom 10 of all MLB, we won’t have to give anyone a draft pick for a free agent.

  10. This doesn’t even begin to address our depth issue, but it strikes me that with all has gone on this year (and last for that matter) in Boston, perhaps Jon Lester could be moved in a change of scenery deal.

    Lester and Romero could be the start of something. Two struggling lefties. Just a wild, never happen in a million years thought.

  11. Cecil’s days as a starter should be just about done here. (Here being a year ago.)

    Stoeten, you’re forgetting that left handers typically start life at around 28 years old. Unless you have a Sabbathia, keep them in the minors as long as possible and then break them in through long relief. You don’t give up on them because they turn into David Wells, Jimmy Key, Randy Johnson, Cliff Lee, Ted Lilly etc. later.

  12. One name that kind of intrigues me as a super buy low – Ubaldo?

    When you get to the NL, I think the Diamondbacks are the team to look at. They’ll be over-flowing with good young pitching. They also have a surplus of outfielders, so they may be the team the Jays have a chance to hook up with on a major deal.

    • AA will be making a play for Masterson. Ubaldo? Not so much.

      • FanGraphs did a piece on the Indians failure this year and pointed out that asides from his big 2011 year Masterson has never been able to get lefties out.

        If that’s the case, it explains his success against the righty-power-fueled Jays, but also why he’d be a poor fit as a guy relied on in the AL East.

  13. what about ervin santana? only 29 and he was pretty good the last two years. just a down year?

  14. A LOT of Happ hate here. People that are writing him off already are delusional. I doubt AA sent seven guys to Houston only to get rid of this guy or banish him to the pen. Get your heads on fellas.

  15. If the Jays are making a run next year – remember that Josh Beckett is good every other year, so he should be solid next year.

    I would break the bank in a trade for Gallardo, resign Carlos V and run with a rotation of
    Carlos V

    with Cecil in the role Carlos V did before in case of injury long relief / spot start if needed

    • Gallardo would be a nice pickup. He would be potentially under team control through the 2015 season:

      2013: $7,750,000
      2014: $11,250,000
      2015 conditional team option at $13M with $600K option (option may be voided with multiple top 3 Cy Young votes finishes).

      The Brewers lack depth at catcher, SS and in the outfield. Plus, there is no guarantee that Corey Hart is returning to play 1B. And their minor league system is pretty bare at the moment. Potentially a good match.

      But to get Gallardo, they would require MLB ready talent and they would be jonesing to acquire one of the prized prospects in the Jays system.

      If you are the Brewers, do you roll the dice to get TDA or JPA when both are on the DL and will likely see limited action before spring training? Hech is projectable enough. Would they take Cooper? Or Sierra?

      The 2012 season has been a disaster. But AA has plenty of trade chips in the books.

      • EDIT: 2015 is $13M with $600K buyout

      • I figure it would take – a 4 for 1 to get Gallardo

        some combo of two of the following -TDA, the Lansing kids, Gose, Hech, Marisnik

        a cheaper SP major league ready like a Cecil
        a mid range prospect or someone already up like a Gomes

    • gallardo is great… but what gives you the idea that the brewers would trade him? don’t see that one happening.

      • @ Ryan. Agreed. Goes without saying. Really depends how the Brewers see where things are at for them going forward. Greinke trade was a no-brainer given his pending FA status.

        • ballsdeep, i would add i don’t see the brewers in the market for a starting catcher… lucroy is the same age as arencibia and has a much better track record as a hitter.

          they also traded grienke with the primary return as a young talented SS in segura… you could argue that segura fits best at 2B… but that would mean a position change for weeks (who is under contract thrugh 2014 eith a vesting option for 2015)

          i’d suggest the jays aren’t a great match with the brewers even if gallardo were available.

  16. Now if a deal gets done we can scoff at AA as a stealthy GM because you’ve covered every possible trade candidate pitcher! We get Felix – aha, we suggested it would be difficult but it didn’t come out of nowhere. After all, he is a pitcher and we needed one!

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