One last time for this Photoshop, I guess…
Things are happening, and though the whole Samardzija and Hammel to the A’s thing didn’t exactly work out for the Jays — doubly so since the Shark will indeed debut against them on Sunday (though perhaps not: he’s at least not a lefty, and as Christina Kahrl tweets – much to the delight of those who were adamantly against the Jays paying big for Samardzija, I’m sure – in his last six starts he’s allowed 6.5 runs-per-9, has been drubbed by the three contenders he’s faced, allowed 54 baserunners in 33 innings, all in the league without a DH!) — but hopefully this is the moment where deals start to get done.
It is, after all, in the interest of both sides to be doing things early. Alex Anthopoulos, in a recent interview on Boston’s WEEI, said that things were still in the developing stages — in fact, he said that he knew of one team at the time (two days ago) who were dead set on being sellers — and that talks probably wouldn’t start heating up until after the All-Star break, but the A’s are conceivably going to get as many as eight starts from their two new pitchers before the July 31st trade deadline, and as such the Cubs surely received a little bit extra for dealing now.
Billy Beane admits as much, as quoted in a piece from Peter Gammons:
The end game isn’t to have the best prospects, it’s to have a good team. We didn’t want to lose Russell. He may be the best young player we’ve had since I’ve been here. But if we’re going to finish first, the extra month of having Samardzija and Hammel is really important.
If that sounds damning of AA’s inaction, that’s not quite right. The Jays simply didn’t have anything like what the A’s could offer. More from the Gammons piece:
Beane was willing to trade the best prospect in the organization, Addison Russell, for reasons of skill and character, not to mention the fact that scouts who watched him in the Arizona Fall League rated him higher than Kris Bryant and Albert Almora, who will be Russell’s teammates in Chicago for many years. Watching him this spring with one of Beane’s most trusted lieutenants, I had a Derek Jeter comp laid on Russell. When Beane and Theo Epstein agreed on the deal, Beane told him, “you got Barry Larkin.”
So… yeah. It was a hefty price, and as I said last night, I’m just glad that if an AL team was going to pay it, Baltimore and New York weren’t the ones doing so. It also sets the market for pitching astronomically high. If Andrew Freidman wanted to package David Price and Ben Zobrist in a similar way, now would be a hell of a good time to do it — or… actually… yesterday may have been the best time to deal Price, given Russell was available. And no, I don’t think the Jays have the prospects to confidently outbid others on a deal like that. They might, but they might not. And they might not even have the budget to add a guy like Price going forward!
They might, though, at least judging by some of the other rumours that are out there.
There aren’t any rumours linking the Jays to him, per se, but one name that immediately jumps to mind is the Cubs’ current shortstop, Starlin Castro. He’s having a career year with the bat (121 wRC+), would probably benefit, defensively, from a move to second base (as he’d surely be asked to do in whatever hypothetical in which he’s acquired by the Jays), and has a contract that’s backloaded in a fashion that would suit the Jays’ current payroll structure — he makes $5-million this year, $6-million next, $7-million in 2016, then $9-, $10-, and $11-million in 2017-19. With a deepening glut of shortstops and a known interest in some of the prospects, maybe it could work.
What we are hearing, though, is that the Jays are “heavily scouting” Martin Prado, Aaron Hill, and Chase Headley. This comes via a tweet from Jim Bowden, though, as you’d expect, MLBTR has a nifty roundup of the details. That roundup includes the fact that none of the trio are playing well, and that Hill and Prado are both owed more than $25-million each from now until the end of 2016.
Getting the Diamondbacks — who appear to be in sell mode now, having dealt a pair of relievers (Tony Campana and Joe Thatcher) this morning — to take on some salary sure would help. Though… Rogers opening the purse strings a little to add a guy at this moment of desperation would be a little fucking nice, too. Either way, the possibilities are underwhelming. Jon Morosi tweets that the Jays would be most interested in Prado, because of his positional flexibility, which entirely makes sense. Except… y’know… the money, and the fact that his .268/.315/.360 line adds up to a wRC+ of 85 this season. While he’s been better against lefties — an above-league-average 106 wRC+ — that’s a lot of money for what might amount to a platoon bat. Though, on the other hand, he had three- and four-win seasons with the Braves in 2009 and 2010, a 5.6 WAR season in 2012, and a 2.3 WAR last year, in his first year in the desert.
However you slice it, it’s better than what they’ve got. And they sure are getting to the point where they need to do something. Beane is not wrong that getting an extra month out of whatever acquisitions are made is really, really important. To this point it has been very difficult to lay the silly DO SOMETHING criticism on Alex Anthopoulos, simply because there weren’t a lot of teams yet who’d be willing to dance. Now, though? As much as his team is a lot better than they’ve shown of late, it sure would be nice to see them stop floundering here, and adding an infield piece during this road trip would be a really, really good way to do it. I can’t condone screaming and shouting that the GM needs to do something, because there’s just so much that we don’t know about what’s going on, but… um… maybe do something, Alex. The more that slips away, the more you’ll need to get back. Overpay a little for the extra month if you have to.
PS. You’ll probably want to go ahead and consider this tonight’s Game Threat. Hup Holland Hup!