This obviously isn’t directly related to the Jays, but here on the morning of the non-waiver trade deadline the landscape of the AL East shifted a bit with the Red Sox moving Jon Lester, Jonny Gomes, and cash to the Oakland A’s for Yoenis Cespedes and a competitive balance draft pick.
The deal also changes the shape of the team currently in line to play the winner of the AL’s Wild Card play-in game, which the Jays would be in — visiting Anaheim — if the playoffs began today, thanks to their three game lead on the Mariners and Yankees.
The names changing here are big — it’s a genuine baseball trade — and it sure is intriguing for both sides. Lester is a bonafide stud that Oakland adds to a rotation that could be a force in the playoffs, while Gomes — like Lester, a free-agent-to-be — is a lefty-masher who should fit nicely with Oakland’s platoon scheming. The Sox get Cespedes, who is under contract for one more season, and who you’d think will benefit from the move to a more offence-friendly ballpark. They also move Lester to a place he’s not exactly likely to fall in love with over these two months, and a club that isn’t likely going to be able to extend him anyway.
So… yeah. With Lester now in the rotation of a possible playoff opponent, then potentially back in Boston next year, along with Cespedes, it’s not exactly a great trade for the Jays on the surface. But it’s not necessarily a slam dunk that Lester will return — by being traded he no longer will cost a club a draft pick to sign him, so the number of suitors he’ll have has certainly gone up — and just how magically great Cespedes will be with the Red Sox isn’t entirely clear.
Obviously the home run derby exploits demonstrate raw power that suggest the right-handed Cespedes will put a whole lot of dents in the Green Monster over the next fourteen months, but in a lot of ways his name has been bigger than his production since his rookie year. His walk rates have been below league average for the past two seasons, with his on-base hovering around just .300. The power has saved his wOBA and wRC+, which are up to .332 and 113 this year respectively, though. And he’s maybe been a little BABIP’d, posting consecutive years with BABIPs around .275. As we know, though, that’s not simply a measure of luck, and an underlying factor like his second-highest-in-MLB flyball rate might especially be creating more outs in a big park like Oakland’s than they will elsewhere. Interestingly, though, he’s posted worse HR/FB rates away from O.co over the last two seasons, and has been much worse at the plate in general — a 120 wRC+ at home and an 84 on the road last year, and this year a 123 mark in Oakland and 103 everywhere else.
What does it all mean? Mostly we’ll have to wait and see.
The A’s, by the way, have now also dealt Tommy Millone to the Twins for Sam Fuld. So maybe don’t go getting eyes for their surplus of starting pitchers just yet, by the way. Not that you’d want someone like Jason Hammel quite as much as you did a month ago anyway, given the 26 hits, 10 walks, and 18 earned runs he’s given up since coming to Oakland from Chicago.
The Jays are apparently looking for pitching, though, as we were hearing last night. This morning Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted that they’re pursuing no position players whatsoever at this point, with their focus entirely on pitching. Meanwhile, at Sporstnet, Shi Davidi writes that the Jays seem to be focussing on a reliever, “if they do anything at all.”
Should it happen, he wrote last night that their aim is for someone with some team control left (as there is currently no clear successor for free-agent-to-be Casey Janssen), who can help them in the near-term as well, and be the kind of pitcher it was hoped that Steve Delabar and Sergio Santos would be for this club.
“While big-name relievers like Joaquin Benoit and Chad Qualls are floating around, a comparison to the type of arm they’re seeking is Addison Reed of Arizona Diamondbacks, a hard-throwing right-hander with two years of control remaining, although he apparently isn’t someone they’re after,” he explains. “They’ve also checked in on Neal Cotts of the Texas Rangers, but that may be nothing more than due diligence.”
Shi also makes a point of calling any of yesterday’s talk about the Jays potentially being in on Jon Lester “nonsense.” Not, y’know, that it matters much now.
So… there’s that.