Alex Anthopoulos continued his trend of debunking conventional wisdom and refusing to categorize his club with a ‘buyer’ or ‘seller’ label. Instead, he traded big league value for big league value, reportedly parting ways with franchise appearances leader Jason Frasor and a prospect to be named in exchange for Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahen from the White Sox.
The prospect here makes all the difference, as the trade simply doesn’t make sense if Anthopulos and the Jays gave up any farmhand expected to eventually contribute in Toronto for a pair of guys unlikely to play a meaningful role with the club moving forward.
Jackson holds the higher ceiling of the two, as a flamethrower who is just 27 years of age and has already thrown a no-hitter (albeit a sloppy one) and been to an All-Star Game. He is also a free agent, leaving the team free to use the next two months to determine whether he is worth investing money in as a potential fourth or fifth starter of the future.
Of course, in a free agent market short on arms, Jackson can expect to at least match the $6 million+ that he’s made over the past two years, which is a lot of money to put towards someone who has already worked his way through five organizations and still hasn’t found any consistency to go along with his electric stuff. He will really need to impress through August and September for the Jays to find him worth not only the cash, but also the coveted rotation spot that will leave one left for young arms like Kyle Drabek, Zach Stewart, Jesse Litsch, Henderson Alvarez and Rey Gonzalez to vie for (Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow and Brett Cecil are basically locked into the top three slots).
Ironically, while Jackson was clearly the more coveted of the acquired assets, it is the pseudo-Canadian Teahen that has a contract for next year. In order to acquire the hurler, it’s likely that Toronto also had to pick up the utility infielder whose Canadian heritage comes from his St. Mary’s, ON-born father. Teahen is currently in the second year of a three-year deal that pays him $14 million, big money for a guy who has seen a dramatic drop-off in his offensive numbers since hitting .290 with 18 home runs and 69 RBI in 2006 with Kansas City. His arrival will help bolster the Jays’ infield defensively, specifically the black hole that has been third base. It could also signal the end of pending free agent John McDonald’s tenure in the city.
Speaking of the end to a long tenure, Frasor’s exit puts an end to his eight-year stint in Toronto that, earlier this season, saw him overtake Duane Ward as the franchise leader in pitching appearances. Frasor was never a star as a Blue Jay, but he certainly made the most of his 5’9” frame and offered some much-needed late-inning consistency. While the White Sox won’t be back in Toronto again this season, he will hopefully be properly thanked and celebrated upon his next return to Rogers Centre. In the meantime, Aaron Hill becomes the longest-serving Blue Jay.
* Update: Looks like it’s Zach Stewart that will be included in the ChiSox deal, but with the added caveat that Jackson will then be flipped to St. Louis in exchange for Colby Rasmus. While it’s also possible that Moises Sierra could be sent to the Cardinals (he was held out of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats’ line-up today), a collective swap of Stewart and Frasor for Rasmus and Teahen looks pretty good.
Rasmus already has 50 career home runs with his 25th birthday still a few weeks away. If he comes to Toronto, he comes with the problem child label and you run the risk of having too many character questions with he and Yunel Escobar in the same clubhouse (and Kyle Drabek to eventually join them). But he has unquestionable talent, and the club has worked hard to keep Escobar focused and would do the same with Rasmus.
The loss of Stewart hurts, as he is among the most Major League-ready of Toronto’s young arms. But he’s also 24 and didn’t have a particularly high ceiling (he projected as a No. 3 starter, at best). Sierra’s inclusion is just speculation at this point, but it would certainly hurt to lose the bona fide power bat of the 22-year old.
About the Author
Written by Ben Fisher