Under The Radar Blue Jays Starting Pitching Targets
The MLB off-season has truly entered madness mode the past week. Big trades, historic contract signings, and we haven’t even reached the GM Winter meetings yet. The Toronto Blue Jays need for starting pitching is documented and general manager Alex Anthopoulos told Toronto media that he has at least 3 starting pitcher targets heading into the winter meetings, targets that are known to be available among baseball executives but not necessarily well known amongst baseball insiders and baseball fans. I have thought of 3 potential starters Anthopolous could have in mind, that would not cost a kings ransom. Whether I am right or wrong remains to be seen but I feel like this guessing game could become fun amongst Blue Jays fans. Here is my list and reasons why:
The St. Louis Cardinals are fresh off of a World Series appearance and have young and upcoming pitchers in Joe Kelly, Shelby Miller, and Michael Wacha. Wacha and Kelly were in the playoff rotation and Wacha excelled. Joe Kelly pitched decently and should be able to find a rotation spot. Shelby Miller was in the bullpen to limit the innings on his arm, which predicts to be a front of the rotation type. The Cardinals have Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly, Jaime Garcia (coming off of injury), and Lance Lynn. They also have a young fireballer in Carlos Martinez but he projects to be a late inning reliever for the next little while. The Cardinals have some decisions to make with their rotation like whether Joe Kelly goes back to the bullpen or not or if Jaime Garcia can bounce back from his injury troubles, which could make one or two guys expendable via trade. Right now with these 6 guys all competing for a spot, it would make sense for the Cardinals to move one of them. Lance Lynn makes the most sense in my mind due to his success the past few seasons. Lynn was 15-10 with a 3.97 ERA last season and 18-7 with a 3.78 ERA in 2012. While Lynn may not be a dominant pitcher as evidenced by his ERA, he gets the job done and eats innings. Lance Lynn could become expendable because of the emergence of Wacha and Joe Kelly in the playoffs last season along with the return of Jaime Garcia. Lynn would probably come at a fair price, and being 26 years old, his success and age seems like an Anthopolous type target. A late inning bullpen arm could get the job done, something the Blue Jays could easily do.
This name came to mind when thinking of pitchers with diminished value because of injury. Beachy was projected to be a crown jewel in the Braves rotation for years to come and very well still could be. Beachy’s career thus far has been rocked by injuries. He had Tommy John surgery midway through the 2012 season and came back to make 5 starts before being shut down with shoulder inflammation. He got arthroscopic surgery in September is figures to be healthy come spring training but he does come back with lots of question marks surrounding his ability to stay healthy. The Braves lost long time ace Tim Hudson to the San Francisco Giants which means Kris Medlen figures to take over as the ace in the rotation. The Braves still think very highly of Brandon Beachy but it is possible they move him should the right deal be presented to them. It is unknown if the Braves would even consider moving Beachy but due to his injury history, they could be more inclined to move him now. Beachy would surely cost the Blue Jays more than a deal for Lance Lynn but the diminished value of Beachy could bring a once high asking price, down. The Braves have young pitching behind Medlen in Mike Minor, Alex Wood, Julio Teheran, and David Hale, all who project to have good futures. With Beachy`s arm problems, the Braves could elect to move him for a young starter ready to step into the rotation now and a bullpen piece. Drew Hutchison and Sergio Santos could perhaps get a deal done, should the Braves be willing to move Beachy.
Yovani Gallardo suffered through a subpar 2013 which saw him finish 12-10 with a 4.18 ERA. They have lots of potential arms ready to step in, with the likes of Tyler Thornburg, Johnny Hellweg, and newly acquired Will Smith who the Brewers view as a starter. They also have Kyle Lohse, Wily Peralta, and Marco Estrada penciled in for the 2014 rotation. The Brewers aren`t in a position to contend in the tough NL Central so trading their ace could actually happen for some pieces that they need for the 2014 team and beyond. The Brewers have made it very clear that they want help at first base and in the bullpen. Those are their primary targets heading into the winter meetings and the Blue Jays could deliver both of those in a package for Gallardo. In my mind the Brewers and Blue Jays matchup perfectly. The Blue Jays, as outlined in my other two possible targets have expendable bullpen pieces which the Brewers are coveting. Should the Brewers ask, the Blue Jays may also be able to make Adam Lind expendable in a deal to land Gallardo. This was the first season the Brewers ace really suffered any kind of rough patch. Gallardo is a proven winner as evidenced by his 81-53 record and 3.72 ERA in the majors. He was one of the best pitchers in the NL back in 2011 but given the struggles he faced last season, and the state the Brewers are in, trading Gallardo makes sense to patch some holes for the 2014 Brewers. Another reason the Brewers and Blue Jays match up well is the need for a 2nd basemen and the Brewers have grown tired of Rickie Weeks. Weeks is entering the final year of his contract, and has an option for 2015. Weeks was also one of the best second basemen a few seasons ago but has struggled with the bat the past two years. The Blue Jays need for a 2nd basemen is noted and the Brewers may want to shed Weeks contract and roll with Scooter Gennett next season. Yovani Gallardo and Rickie Weeks could come at a bargain price, something the Blue Jays should consider. If they are able to land Gallardo, it makes sense to also inquire on Rickie Weeks. A package for just Gallardo could be done with a late inning bullpen arm and if Rickie Weeks is included add Adam Lind into the equation and a low end starter like J.A. Happ and a deal could be struck. Yovani Gallardo is a perfect fit for the Blue Jays in my mind and he would come at a very good price.
These three men are all possibilities to be moved in my mind. The reason I feel these three could also work is the fact the Blue Jays likely will not have to part ways with the likes of Aaron Sanchez or Marcus Stroman. In my mind, these three arms could comprise in any combination, to be some of the targets the Blue Jays have in mind going into the winter meetings.