Wait, the trade hasn’t even been finalized yet, and we’re already talking about flipping one of the players?
Sounds about right, actually.
Still, the suggestion that the Toronto Blue Jays could flip newly-acquired starter Josh Johnson didn’t just surface out of thin air; in fact, it came from the player’s agent himself:
— SN 590 The FAN (@FAN590) November 14, 2012
Now, before we get too worked up on the possibility that Alex Anthopoulos is already working the phones trying to move a player that isn’t technically a member of the Blue Jays yet, some context is required. Mark Sosnick didn’t suggest that moving Johnson would be in the clients’ best interest or anything like that; on the contrary, the agent says that Johnson is “excited” to be in Toronto, and thinks that the team has a good chance to win the AL.
What he did say was that he didn’t feel as though the Blue Jays were done, and if a knockout offer came calling for Johnson, it would be an un-Anthopoulos thing for him to not listen:
I’ve got to imagine that the players that Alex acquired have to be in play – it’s a lot of money he took on in salary in one shot. And there are so many teams that are interested in Josh Johnson that if the Yankees or Texas or some of these teams looking for a front line starter wanted to give up a ton, it would seem like it would be against the way that Alex normally does business to not listen and make a trade if he could acquire a bunch of top prospects for one of the players in this deal.
As I said, it’s not entirely out of left field, except for one thing: it doesn’t sound like Anthopoulos would move any of the pieces for prospects at this point – not when they’ve taken on the salary to open a window for contention. Not only would it be the mother of all goodwill-demolishing, fanbase-alienating moves, it’d be a backwards way to acquire more prospects.
So yeah, if one of the pieces in the trade does get moved, I’d think it’ll be done because it offers the opportunity for the team to acquire an even better piece to help them compete.
Could the Blue Jays end up moving Johnson? Sure – and there are some legitimate reasons why they might want to do so. The Texas Rangers were just one of the many teams who coveted the right-hander at the trade deadline, and it’s not as though they don’t have players who can make the Blue Jays a better team, or put them on the road to acquiring a different player from another team.
That said, the Blue Jays’ biggest need in the off-season was starting pitching, and it’s a premium market, so I’d imagine whatever else they may be looking for would have to bring a fair bit more to the table in a different area – team control, talent, etc.
Is there a different target on Anthopoulos’ radar? Ian Kinsler? Elvis Andrus? Justin Upton in a multi-team scenario? There could be a lot of speculation in the coming days, and as unlikely as it might seem for the Blue Jays to pull the trigger on moving an affordable starter that they just acquired, it’d be foolish to bet against Anthopoulos’ ability to surprise at this point.