Cue the insanity brigade. The Jays “missed out” on giving up a couple small pieces and paying about $2-million to replace a league minimum guy with an over-30 rental third baseman sporting an 88 wRC+ who has a herniated disc in his lower back that he’s playing through and received a cortisone shot for last month.
The Jays name has been attached to Chase Headley — formerly of the Padres, now of the Yankees — for a while now, but ultimately this one didn’t pan out. Those who are inclined to hissy fits surely will — or have already started to — insist it’s either the money or some colossal fuck-up on the part of a bumbling GM that’s caused the team to BLOW ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY.
The sensible, on the other hand, might point to the fact that the Rogers Centre turf has a reputation for aggravating back injuries, the fact that Headley has been so awful, and the fact that the Jays’ ability to add to the payroll — to whatever extent they even have such an ability — is probably too limited to take such an expensive flyer. And that’s probably true even if the assets going the other way amount to nothing (the Yankees gave up once-hot journeyman Yangervis Solarte and High-A right-hander Rafael De Paula, and got $1-million for their troubles to boot!), and even if the flyer is on someone who has been much, much better in the past than this year.
If the Jays balked, I think it’s entirely understandable given the risk of Headley not working out. Shit, with Steve Tolleson going swimmingly against left-handers, Brett Lawrie getting back in a couple of weeks, and Jose Bautista potentially being able to move to third if an outfielder is acquired (or Nolan Reimold gets healthy and shows something), adding a guy like Headley would have been a nice luxury with a lot of potential if he gets healthy enough to start swinging the bat the way he’s shown before, but not really a necessity — certainly not on the level of a more expensive addition that we could feel more confident will actually give the club something at the plate.
The Yankees, on the other hand, are exactly the kind of place where you’d expect this type of player to land. They can afford to blow it. The Jays can’t.
Like everybody else I think there are many reasons why that shouldn’t be the reality under this ownership, given all the value the Jays’ cheap content provides them, but it is the reality. So please, spare us the frothing commentary about Alex Anthopoulos being asleep at the switch and maybe take a moment to contemplate the myriad reasons why it is what it is.
We all want the club to add good players, to save the farm, and show to that they’re willing to spend indiscriminately and unafraid that ownership will alter the deal and create major long-term ramifications for their doing so, and yes, adding a couple million to the 2014 payroll in order to give up so little and take a chance on a guy who put up 7.2 fucking WAR in 2012 really does seem to check off all of those boxes. But that’s simply not where this team is at, and that’s fine.
The Jays sure as fuck will give themselves a much better chance this year if they do something to address their needs, but that doesn’t mean they need to do every single thing that comes along or is rumoured. It’s dumb and frustrating as hell that it’s even believable that they’d be so severely limited in terms of budget that they might not have been able to make this one happen, but just because it’s believable doesn’t mean that’s necessarily what the case was. The Jays have had lots of scouts watching the Padres — possibly for Headley, possibly for Kennedy, or Denorfia, or Huston Street, or any number of players who could move (or already have) — but that doesn’t mean they wanted him at any cost.
Can they figure out something to make happen at a cost they can stomach? Let’s fucking hope so. Let’s fucking hope we’re not forced to watch this season go down the drain wondering where the incremental improvements that could have made it truly special were. Believe it or not, there is still plenty of reason to think it won’t go that way — that they won’t let it slip away without even having fucking tried — but in a couple of weeks that may not still be the case.