With rumours swirling about potential trades, Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Travis Snider was removed from tonight’s game against the Seattle Mariners. Before exiting the dugout for the clubhouse, he was seen shaking hands and hugging his now former teammates. Shortly after the emotional goodbyes, it was announced that Snider has been traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for 27-year old right-handed pitcher Brad Lincoln, the fourth overall pick in the 2006 draft.

Snider has played in parts of four seasons for the Blue Jays after being rushed to the big leagues as a 20-year old. Despite his meteoric rise through the Toronto system, he failed time and time again to make good on his visible potential at the higher level. Over these last four years, it could also be said that he was done few favours by the organization as it sent him back and forth between Triple A and the big league club.

The Pirates get a left handed outfield bat that they had been reportedly seeking. But while most suspected that bat would come in the form of a veteran cast off from a non-contending team, Snider is almost the exact opposite. Still only 24-years old, Snider has shown glimpses of opposite way power and should fit in right away in the middle of the Pittsburgh lineup. The corner outfielder is in his final automatic contract renewal year and will enter arbitration ahead of 2013, under team control through 2016.

Lincoln has been used in a variety of roles this season in Pittsburgh, starting five games, while also being used as a long man and late inning reliever. He has a low to mid-nineties fastball and a good curveball, as a well as a sinking fastball and change up that he doesn’t use as much as the other two pitches. This is most noticeable against right handed batters, to whom he throws the fastball and curve almost exclusively. According to Blue Jays manager John Farrell, the team will use Lincoln as a reliever.

What’s most curious about this trade is that in the past, it would be the Toronto Blue Jays acquiring the out-of-favour former prospect that Snider certainly is for a player of limited value to his former club, or in this case, a reliever. Perhaps there’s something more to Lincoln than an initial evaluation. He was drafted ahead of Snider, and has until recently failed to settle into a Major League role. Or perhaps all the staggered starts to Snider’s career were more damaging to his value than was assumed, but it appears that the Pirates are acquiring a player that offers them both a higher upside and the meeting of a current need. Whereas the Blue Jays are merely acquiring a bullpen arm.

Perhaps Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington is the new ninja.