The Toronto Blue Jays were relatively quiet during the offseason. While nobody could have predicted this many injuries, it’s clear the Blue Jays depth has been put in question. We’ve already seen Alex Anthopoulos make an effort to improve the Jays pitching depth during the trade deadline, and it’s quite possible we’ll see him do more of that for the position players in free agency.
However, with the season more than two thirds of the way completed, it’s a fair time to assess whether the Jays did a good job during the offseason. Let’s take a look at all the major deals the Jays made:
1) Brad Mills traded to Los Angeles Angels for Jeff Mathis
I ripped this trade when it occurred, as Mathis had been one of the least productive major leaguers in the history of baseball. The trade has worked out for the Jays though, as Mathis is in the middle of a career year and is currently starting for the Jays with JP Arencibia on the disabled list.
Brad Mills only made one start with the Angels, pitching 5 shutout innings. Given the Jays injuries to the pitching staff, it’s worth asking if the Jays might have been better off signing a catcher in free agency and having Mills pitching for them now. Of course, Mills was never really that effective to begin with, so it looks like the Jays did fairly well in this trade. At least, it looks a lot better now then it did at the time.
2) Nestor Molina traded to Chicago White Sox for Sergio Santos
This trade was thought to be one of the best moves by any GM during the offseason, as the Jays sold high on Molina for a cost controlled, shutdown closer in Santos. Unfortunately Santos injured his shoulder and only pitched 5 forgettable innings for the Jays. Molina hasn’t been much better, posting a 4.70 ERA in AA. Molina also hit the disabled list this year, doing his best to pretend that he’s still a member of Toronto’s pitching staff.
It was a fantastic deal on paper, but sadly for the Jays Santos never got a chance to dominate out of the pen. If he’s healthy next year, the Jays could still come out ahead.
3) Frank Gailey traded to Philadelphia Phillies for Ben Francisco
As a 26 year old with no major league experience the Jays traded nothing of value for Francisco. But Francisco never had a real place on the roster, as the Jays already had a better version of him in Rajai Davis. An awkward move from the start, as Francisco was the square trying to fit into the round hole. Not a good move at the time or in hindsight.
Ironically, the Jays finally have a use for Ben Francisco now that their outfield depth has been decimated. Unfortunately, he’s no longer on the team.
4) Aaron Laffey signed for $800,000
A move that went under the radar or resulted in a rolling of the eyes. However Laffey has turned into a quietly effective pick up, putting up league average pitching for a staff decimated with injuries. These types of signings are key, as a team can often hit lightning in the bottle and end up with some tremendous value. The Jays control Laffey’s rights through 2014, so this signing could also help the Jays in future years.
It’s sad when four deals into the offseason, Aaron Laffey is the best the Jays have acquired. Clearly not a banner offseason for the Jays.
5) Darren Oliver signed to a 1 year $4 million deal, with a club option for 2013 worth $3m ($0.5m buyout)
Oliver has been one of, if not the best reliever for the Jays this season. With a 1.31 ERA, he’s quietly having one of the best seasons of his career at age 41. Unless he plans on retiring the Jays should accept his option for next season. Oliver has been effective against right and left handed hitters, and has been a dominant reliever in a bullpen filled with unreliable options.
Make sure to read part two of our look at the Toronto Blue Jays offseason