Friday, July 20, 2012

The Smallest Big Deal in MLB History

The Smallest Big Deal in MLB History 

            Its been a very active 12 hours in Blue Jays news.  Last night was all abuzz about Travis Snider’s call up, but we wake up this morning to find out they’ve been involved in 10 player trade with the Houston Astros.  Here are the specifics.

To Houston: OF Ben Francisco, RHP Francisco Cordero, RHP Asher Wojciechowski, C Carlos Perez, RHP Joe Musgrove, LHP David Rollins, & Player To be Named Later (likely cash)

To Toronto: LHP J.A. Happ, RHP Brandon Lyon, RHP David Carpenter

Now it first glance it seems like the Jays gave up an awful lot of prospects, in order to acquire a back end of the rotation starter (Happ), and two middle relievers (Lyon & Carpenter), however if you dive into the prospects we gave up its really not that much at all.  Lets look at what the Jays gave up in detail before getting to the guys going the other way.

Francisco Cordero – Cordero might be one of the least popular Jays players in the past 5 years.  While I don’t think he’s been quite as bad as most Blue Jays fans think he’s been, there’s no way you can call him anything but bad.  He wouldn’t have had a place in this bullpen with Carpenter and Lyon coming in, so this is just a salary dump, as he matches up with Lyon’s money coming back the other way.

Ben Francisco – I never understood the Francisco signing in the first place.  All it seemed to do was prevent a roster spot from going to Travis Snider.  Now with Snider up and starting every day in Left Field, the Jays already had a right handed hitting outfielder on their bench in Rajai Davis, so this is literally nothing. 

Carlos Perez – Perez is probably the best prospect that the Jays gave up in this deal, but I still don’t think that’s anything to worry about.  He was having a very solid year in Lansing this year, however its his 2nd year at that level, and to me it really speaks to the club’s confidence in him, that even when AJ Jimenez went down for the year, they didn’t move Perez up a level.  Of all the team’s in the majors the Jays have by far the best catching depth in their system, so even after trading Perez away they still have uber-prospect Travis d’Arnaud ready to come up next year, and AJ Jimenez (if he can rebound from season ending surgery) as a developmental guy.  Not a major loss.

Joe Musgrove – One of the 7 picks in the first 78 in last year’s draft Musgrove is the type of prospect the Jays’ new regime love.  A young projectable high ceiling arm, but ones that come with a lot of risk.  In other system’s you might’ve seen Musgrove crack their top 10, but given how stacked the Jays system is (especially in terms of pitching), he was likely in the high 20s.  He’s a pitcher I really like, has a prototypical power pitcher frame (6’5 230), and an advanced breaking pitch for his age.  That being said, he’s still just 19 years old, and has just gotten to the Appy league last week.  Odds are by the time Musgrove gets to the majors we really wont be sweating it, because any number of Daniel Norris, Aaron Sanchez, Noah Syndergaard, Justin Nicolino (and many others), will probably be populating the rotation.

Asher Wojciechowski – This is probably the most recognizable prospect moved today to most Blue Jays fans, for a couple reasons.  1) The guy has a sweet 4 syllable last name, & 2) He’s a former supplemental first round pick in 2010.  However, despite coming out of The Citadel with some promise, he was a massive disappointment last year, a though his numbers look better this year there are many reasons to believe they don’t show a lot of progression.  For one he’s repeating the level in the Florida State League, which is never a good sign, especially not for a college pitcher who you thought might move quickly, and also because his decrease in ERA has come from a DRAMATIC decrease in his HR/FB rate, which is generally luck driven.  His velocity has plateaued in the high 80s, and his slider doesn’t have a lot of bite, so long term he looks to be a bullpen arm at best.

David Rollins – Rollins has been putting up nice numbers this year in the stacked rotation that the Lansing Lugnuts have.  However he’s 22 at that level (as opposed to the big 3 in Lansing, who are all 20 or younger), is relatively small, and as a 24th round pick, isn’t someone we’re likely to miss at all.  While you could dream on some of the other guys in this deal, that really wasn’t the case with Rollins.  He’s just a guy, nothing to see here.

To recap, the Jays gave up two major leaguers who had no role going forward, and have already been replaced on the roster, the #3 catcher in their organization, and two arms who probably ranked in the 20s, now that this year’s draft class has been added.  Its a lot of players, but overall there’s probably no one who we’re really likely to regret dealing in the long run.

Shifting our sights to the talent who are on their way into the major league roster.

J.A. Happ – First thing to note for any Jays fans not familiar with Mr. Happ, his name is pronounced “Jay”, not “J” “A”, no I don’t understand why either, but that’s just how it is.  Happ burst onto the scene in 2009 with the Phillies and got off to a blazing start finishing with a 12-4 record, and a BABIP aided 2.94 ERA.  That was never going to be sustainable, and might’ve gotten irrational Phillies fans hopes up a little too much.  However he has settled into a nice role as a back of the rotation starter, who’s strikeout rate has been trending up consistently the past few years.  He isn’t anything special, but he can help fill out the rotation for the rest of the year, and is under club control for another 2 years after this one.  If going forward our rotation recovers from the contagion of Tommy John surgery that’s been going around he could serve as a capable long man (and lefty out of the pen).

Brandon Lyon – Lyon is probably most notable for the contract he’s currently pitching on, that when former Astros GM Ed Wade gave it to him, was largely seen as one of the dumbest that off-season (due to the 3 year commitment to a middling relief pitcher).  However that contract isn’t a concern for the Jays, since its expiring at the end of the year.  All we really need to worry about is whether he’s better than Coco Cordero, and that really isn’t a hard task.  Since coming back from surgery that shut him down for most of last year his stuff seems to have taken a significant jump forward, as his 8.8 K/9 is the best he’s posted in hist career.  There is some concern that going from the NL Central, to the AL East might take some of the shine off him, but again, if Cordero is the bar, he can probably stumble and still go flying over.

David Carpenter – Carpenter is a 27 year old bullpen arm, who has fallen victim to the Luck Dragon this year.  His 6.07 ERA looks about as ugly as it gets, but that’s almost entirely based on his sky high .402 BABIP.  His underlying numbers are quite promising, a high strikeout rate is the type of guy who could settle into the major league pen allowing them to send guys like Sam Dyson, or Aaron Loup back to the minors to get a little more development time.

            All things told, this might be the most irrelevant 10 player trade in MLB history.  The Jays don’t lose very much out of their stacked farm system, and they get pieces to help them stay in the race this year, but also get two guys who we’ll have going forward in Carpenter & Happ.  The Jays have used pieces deep into their system to stay in the race this year, without giving up any of their top prospects.  All things told I’ll give this trade a thumbs up. 

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