The 5 Worst Trades Made By Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos
As I peer out my window fixated on the ever growing pile of snow that I will soon be forced to shovel, I find myself pondering the potential acquisitions the Toronto Blue Jays could make to solidify their roster for the upcoming baseball campaign. My thoughts carry me to my third base line seat at the Rogers Centre and, while reminiscing about fresh peanuts and $10 adult beverages, I soon reflect on the trigger pulling, team-friendly moves Blue Jays General Manager Alex Anthopoulos has made to acquire the likes of Colby Rasmus and Brett Lawrie. The man known to the Blue Jays faithful as the "Silent Assassin" has been known to fleece the odd GM. He has traded for players who have not lived up to their lofty expectations and grown out of favor with their respective Managers. However, have you ever thought about the worst deals that Anthopoulos has made since taking over the helm of Blue General Manager on October 3rd, 2009 from the incumbent J.P. Ricciardi? Here is my list of five transactions that one could agree Anthopoulos would like a mulligan on.
1. Mike Napoli for Frank Francisco: On January 11th, 2011 Alex Anthopoulos made the trade that defines him as a General Manager by sending Vernon Wells and his monstrous, financially strapping contract to the Los Angeles Angels in return for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera. However, Just 2 weeks later Anthopoulos reciprocated the favor making his worst lopsided trade to date exchanging the newly acquired Napoli for veteran reliever Frank Francisco of the Texas Rangers. Napoli would go onto bat .320 and crush 30 home runs in 113 games that season for the Rangers while Francisco only lasted one season with the Jays.
2. Aaron Hill and John McDonald for Kelly Johnson: I will agree that at the time of the deal it seemed like a wash. Both Hill and Johnson were set to become free agents and both had grew stagnant in their current environment leading up to the trade. Hill rejuvenated his career in the desert hitting .315 in the last 33 games of the 2011 season with Diamondbacks and continued that trend into 2012 batting .302 with 26 bombs while winning a Silver Slugger award. As for Kelly Johnson, he whiffed his way out of Canada posting a pathetic .225 average and fanned 159 times in 2012. Oh, did I mention the Jays also sent fan favorite and web gem master John McDonald to Arizona in the deal as well?
3. Mike Aviles and Yan Gomes for Esmil Rogers: On it's face this deal is not mind blowing. However, the current catching epidemic and the eventual demise and departure of J.P. Arencibia obviously plays into my rationale. Gomes blossomed into an everyday player last season for the Indians batting .294 with an .826 OPS and 11 home runs proving he is a major league talent. Aviles was his steady self and a valuable asset off the bench and the veteran presence you would expect. In a time when the Blue Jays value catchers at a premium they dealt Gomes as an after-thought, a move that paid dividends immediately for the Tribe. Don't get me wrong, Esmil Rogers has major league stuff but he also has an earned run average just under 5.00.
4. Francisco Cordero, Ben Francisco ,Asher Wojciechowski, Carlos Perez, David Rollins , Joseph Musgrove and Kevin Comer for J.A. Happ, David Carpenter and Brandon Lyon: The Jays shipped a couple of veterans and a plethora of pitching prospects, three of which were 1st round selections, for a bottom of the rotation starter in Happ. Who knows in 5 years how this deal will shape out? It now seems like an awful steep ransom to pay for a starter with a career earned run average over 4.00.
5. Roy Halladay for Kyle Drabek, Travis d'Arnaud and Michael Taylor: I realize Anthopoulos's hands were tied on this deal, but 4 seasons have past and not one single player has matriculated into an everyday major leaguer. The acquisition of Taylor turned into Brett Wallace, who was eventually flipped for Anthony Gose. The speedy Gose has all the tools but had a disappointing 2013 season. Currently the jury is out on whether he will ever be more than a fourth outfielder at the major league level. Drabek struggled at the major league level with his control and composure before suffering yet another season ending injury and d'Arnaud was used as trade bait to acquire R.A. Dickey. We all know what the "Doc" has done since returning south of the border. Now it's time to see what Drabek and Gose can do in 2014.
More often than not Anthopoulos walks away the winner in his savvy but silent deals, but these are 5 questionable transactions that came to mind during my winter doldrums that may not go in the favor of the crafty canuck. Until the next deal, stay warm and remind yourself spring training is only 55 days away.