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2009 Trade Deadline Preview: Toronto Blue Jays

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Buyers or sellers?

The Blue Jays certainly haven't given any indication they are buyers, but tagging them with the term sellers might be a little too strong. We all know they have put ace Roy Halladay on the block, but unless they receive an enormous package in return there is still a high probability that Halladay will be a Blue Jay next year. However, for the sake of this discussion we'll go ahead and label them sellers.

Short-term need

First and foremost the Blue Jays have to get this Roy Halladay situation settled. Ultimately, dealing or not dealing Halladay should give us a clear indication what the Blue Jays are planning on doing in the future. Don't expect the Blue Jays to make any deals to upgrade their immediate roster, unless that involves dealing Halladay for major league ready players.

Long-term need

The Blue Jays have developed some good young players that will give them a promising future. Position players Aaron Hill, Alex Rios and Adam Lind should be the cornerstones of the Blue Jays offense for some time to come. Young pitchers Brett Cecil, Ricky Romero and Marc Rzepczynpski will be the foundation of the Jays future rotation. Roy Halladay doesn't figure to be in the Jays long-term plans regardless of whether he remains with the team past the July 31 deadline or not.

Ultimately, the Jays need to continue to develop talent in order to compete with the Yankees in the Red Sox. They clearly don't have the same deep pockets, so developing young stars will be their only chance to compete. In order for the Jays to do this they'll probably have to find a way out of some of their existing contracts, most notably center fielder Vernon Wells. Moving Halladay will net the Jays some good prospects who should help the team in the future, but finding a way to rid themselves of Wells could ultimately determine if the Jays have the financial flexibility to keep this team in tact. Wells is currently in the midst of a seven year $126 million deal that runs through 2014.

Big leaguers on the market?

Clearly you have to begin answering this question with Jays ace Roy Halladay. It's no surprise to anyone that Halladay is on the market. Halladay a lifelong Jay is all about winning now, and it doesn't appear the Jays can provide him with that situation. Halladay has spent his career watching the Yankees and Red Sox dominate the AL East, and he believes it's his time to compete for a championship. He appears to have a great relationship with GM J.P. Ricciardi, which leads me to believe Ricciardi will answer his wishes (while not screwing himself of course). Halladay has been linked to about every team under the sun, but the most notable contenders are the Phillies, Angels, Red Sox, Yankees, and Dodgers. The next group of contenders would probably be the White Sox, Rangers, and Brewers.

Others big leaguers on the market would have to start with Vernon Wells. Early reports were that the Jays were going to require any team interested in Halladay to take on Wells, but those reports appear to have disappeared. Wells is virtually untradeable, he's signed to a ridiculous contract, and frankly his production doesn't make him all that desirable. For more on his production read this great article from Sky Kalkman at Beyond The Box Score, it will blow your mind how useless Vernon Wells is. I had to steal this little quote from Sky because I find it hilarious.

Sky's Tip of the Day: If you're a major league baseball general manager and anyone from the Blue Jays front office calls you up and even mentions the name Vernon Wells, immediately hang up, unplug your phone, announce a code Dunn over the PA, and organize the entire building's retreat into the sub-basement biodome where you won't come out until after 2014. (Don't forget the Twinkies.)

Moving along. Expect the Jays to also consider dealing third baseman Scott Rolen, who's having a bit of a revival year (.322/6/35). However, Rolen may be tough to deal figuring he is 34, and is owed $11.8 million for 2009 and 2010. Rumors were the Red Sox might be interested in Rolen, but that was when the team was uncertain about the status of third baseman Mike Lowell. I'm sure that's off the table now. Also the Giants have been linked to Rolen, but I can't imagine them talking on his salary. However, if J.P. Ricciardi was willing to eat a portion of the contract maybe the Giants could be a fit.

Minor league strength

The Jays minor league system has thinned a bit, but that's mostly because a lot of their prospects are already in the major leagues. The Jays consensus top prospect is 21-year-old outfielder Travis Snieder, who currently plays for the Jays Triple-A Las Vegas. Snieder is struggling a bit batting only .246, but it's more than understandable considering his age and the level he is playing at. Minor League Ball John Sickels grades Snieder as an A- prospect, and he anticipates that Snieder may struggle in the early going, but he expects him to develop in the long run.

Some other prospects to keep an eye on for the Blue Jays are catcher J.P. Arencibia, and shortstop Justin Jackson. Arencibia also plays for Triple-A Las Vegas, is batting .240 with 9 homers and 42 RBIs. Jackson the Jays 2007 first round pick plays for Single-A Dunedin. He has struggled to say the least at the plate, but he does have 16 SB this year. He's considered a real smooth fielding shortstop, and most scouts think his bat will come around, as he gets older.

Take on short-term money to win?

No. The Jays can barely handle the money they currently have. In fact as we've stated the Jays are doing their due diligence to rid themselves of some of the over expenditures they have on the books right now. However, no need for Jays fans to feel bad, you'll probably be the center of attention for about the next 11 days.

 

For more coverage of the Blue Jays, check out Blue Bird Banter.