MLB Trade Deadline Analysis: Jays Stand Pat
In every professional sport, when it comes down to a season's trade deadline, you have your traditional buyers, and your traditional sellers. The buyers are those teams who are on the hunt for a championship, or those who are one or two players away from a championship. The sellers are those who realize that this season is rightoff, or those with players who are pending free agents that they know won't resign. Most general managers in a selling position utilize the trade deadline to recoup some assets for their rebuilding process. When you know a star player isn't going to commit long term to your franchise, you offset the loss by stocking your system with prospects who may step in one day and fill the departing star player's shoes. The Toronto Blue Jays are not going to make the playoffs this year. It is not much of a surprise to anyone who knows baseball. They are in the unfortunate position of being in the toughest division in baseball, if not the toughest division in sports. In any given year, the AL East arguably has 3 of the top 5 teams in the baseball. The Yankees, the Red Sox, and the Rays. The Jays, even though they've overachieved and had a respectable year, cannot keep up with these powerhouses. Thus we know there is almost no chance of the Jays qualifying for the post season. They are not one or two players away from qualifying either. What does this mean to us? For a team with many expiring contracts, it means the Jays SHOULD have been sellers at the trade deadline. The Jays rookie GM, Alex Anthopoulos, surprised everyone by doing nothing more at the deadline. He had many coveted assets to move for prospects and players. Scott Downs and his expiring pact was reportedly wanted by the Yankees, but Anthopoulos supposedly asked for Joba Chamberlain and the Yankees laughed and settled with Kerry Wood (who if healthy, is way better than downs). John Buck, our all star catcher (yes he actually made the all star team) is having a phenomenal season offensively (he's among the league leaders for catchers in every offensive category other than stolen bases). He has an expiring contract, is unlikely to resign with the Jays, and his value is at an all time high. Yet we didn't trade him, and now his contract is going to expire and we will only get compensatory draft picks. Jose Bautista is also having a career year. He's actually leading the entire league in home runs. We have control over him for the remainder of this season, and next. His value is also at an all time high, yet we didn't trade him. He is unlikely to resign after next season, when a big spending team will likely lure him away in free agency. His value as a trade asset is only going to decline as his contract winds down. If he regresses next year (which I think is likely) Anthopoulos will be kicking himself. We also had Kevin Gregg, Jason Frasor, and Lyle Overbay to trade, but those players wouldn't have drawn as much interest as Buck and Bautista. If we can retain Buck and Bautista long term, then Anthopoulos' inaction will not be in vain. If they inevitably walk away in free agency, these assets will have been wasted. I won't know Anthopoulos entirely. He already made arguably the deal of the year by trading Alex Gonzalez for Yunel Escobar. What a steal it was. I was just shocked he didn't make any more moves to improve the future of the franchise. He actually made a move that may seem minor to most people. He traded AAA player Brett Wallace to the Astros for single A player Anthony Gose. None of these players saw a minute of the Majors this year, and many people haven't heard of either of them. However, this trade was surprising to those who know baseball. Wallace is the guy who was traded for Matt Holliday, then traded from Oakland to the Jays for Michael Taylor, a prospect acquired by the Jays for Roy Halladay. He is a highly touted prospect who is supposedly ready to make the move to the big leagues. He's killing AAA this year, batting over .300 with 18 homers and is averaging almost 1 rbi per game. Fantastic numbers that the Jays need. He was supposed to be the future of the Jays franchise, the replacement for Lyle Overbay next season who will be the big first baseman wielding the big power hitting bat the Jays haven't had since Delgado left town. Fast forward a couple days, and Wallace is out of our system. He would have been a staple in our lineup next season, but now will suit up for the Astros after Lance Berkman was shipped to the Yankees. It seems as though Adam Lind or Travis Snider will take Wallace's spot at first next season. As far as prospects are concerned, Wallace has been replaced by a 19 year old kid who is supposedly years and years away from playing in the majors. Gose was coveted by the Jays in the Halladay trade, but the Phillies GM wouldn't part with him. Anthopoulos jumped at the chance to grab him, and the Astros were a willing trade partner. Gose is likened to Carl Crawford. He's a speedy center fielder who steals a lot of bases. However, his batting average at single - A is around 260. He doesn't hit for power, and he isn't likely to drive in runs like Crawford can. Whether with time and maturity this Gose kid can turn into Crawford remains to be seen. As it stands, the Jays have backtracked their rebuilding process by about 4 years. Wallace would have been immediate help next season, and Gose will be lucky to crack the Jays AA roster. By the time this kid makes it to the majors (if ever) Vernon Wells' contract will be up and the Jays team will look very different. Time will tell whether or not the Jays won this trade. I personally don't like it, because I think the Jays needed Wallace's power bat. However, if we retain Jose Bautista and he can keep mashing homers with the best of the league, and if Gose can become the next Carl Crawford, the Jays will be laughing because they haven't had a player with the speed, talent and game breaking ability of Crawford since an over the hill Rickey Henderson left town. Prospects in baseball are never sure things. Maybe Anthopoulos wasn't offered any highly touted prospects for his overachieving veterans. Maybe he just didn't want to send his talent to a team within his own division and watch them raise more banners to their stadiums' rafters. There will always be good moves and bad moves made by GMs. Hopefully Gose becomes the next Crawford and Wallace isn't as great as everyone thinks he will be. Only time will tell. For now, its frustrating to be a Jays fan.