The Mike Aviles era is over in Toronto.
If you guessed another relief pitcher, go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back. Yes, the Blue Jays acquired Esmil Rogers – another starter-turned-reliever – in exchange for the pair of players. Rogers was formerly a top-ten prospect in the Colorado Rockies organization as a starter, and was traded to the Indians in the middle of 2012 after a disastrous 2011 season in which he made 13 starts to the tune of a 7.05/1.89 ERA/WHIP.
The 27-year old thrived in Cleveland as a long-man/set-up man in the latter part of this season, posting a 3.06/1.11 ERA/WHIP ratio over 53 innings in 44 appearances. Still, at first glance, he’s simply another piece to the crowded bullpen – why did Alex Anthopoulos want this guy?
As usual, the answer comes down to upside. Rogers is a former-starter with a big arm (high-90s fastball, can touch 98), and was a strikeout-per-inning guy over the last year. His 5.95 ERA, compared to his 4.06 xFIP, suggests that there was probably something of a park factor to his failures from his Rockies days. The upside to be a back-end bullpen guy is there for Rogers, while Aviles was likely going to be a back-up infielder at most. I can’t say I’m going to shed any tears for Gomes either – he was never really considered a top prospect in the organization, and the it was unclear where he’d fit in to the future on the team.
On paper, the trade doesn’t look too bad for the Blue Jays, who continue to bolster their bullpen with one big strikeout arm after another. One thing that the trade will change is likely the outcome of the decision on whether to retain Jason Frasor or Brandon Lyon: with Rogers now in the fold as a potential late-inning setup man, I think the team is likely going to let both Frasor and Lyon walk, having found a cheaper option to take on the role.
Still…another reliever? Okay, Alex, I think we get the idea – you can get high-upside relievers out there. Will he be able to parlay any of them into a starter? That remains to be seen.