There’ll be nothing coming from the Toronto Blue Jays to their side of this rumor, of course, as the team’s management is well-known for holding on to their secrets; but according to at least one beat writer from Atlanta, newly-acquired utilityman Emilio Bonifacio may well be on the trade block, and is being targeted by at least one MLB team:
#Braves are still involved in multiple trade talks, two of their targets believed to be Bonifacio and Fowler
— David O’Brien (@ajcbraves) December 12, 2012
The Atlanta Braves aren’t just any major league team, though; they’re a team with something that the Blue Jays want – namely, relief pitching. With the expected departure of Michael Bourn looming, the Braves are looking to solidify their outfield, even if Martin Prado happens to give them some degree of flexibility in that department.
Coupled with their trade to acquire Jordan Walden, and you might reasonably come to a conclusion that the team could be looking to make that outfield acquisition happen by dealing from their bullpen, especially when the team has several pitchers, like Randall Delgado, who could wind up being a long reliever in 2013.
Back to the Blue Jays, though. Despite having loaded up their bullpen with sheer numbers with players like Esmil Rogers, Aaron Loup, Jeremy Jeffress (who are all out of options), the team is still looking for an upgrade in the relief pitching department.
Simply put, they’re short on options in the set-up role, as far as known quantities are concerned; Darren Oliver still planning on retiring (unless he gets a job pitching close to home in Texas), and Sergio Santos‘ shoulder is a relative unknown headed into spring training.
Sure, the team has Casey Janssen who will start the season as the closer (though we know how fickle that role can be), but Steve Delabar or Brad Lincoln are a little shaky as top set-up options – at least, until they’ve pitched well enough to prove otherwise.
As we’ve seen in trades around the league this year, there’s a premium on known quantities, especially when it comes to pitching. Bonifacio is currently listed on the Blue Jays depth chart as the starting second baseman, but let’s not forget that the team was just as comfortable with Maicer Izturis behind him before he came into the fold.
If the Braves are willing to part with relief pitching, why not take a look? Obviously, Craig Kimbrel isn’t going anywhere; but what about his set-up man, Jonny Venters? The 27-year old lefty had some health issues in 2012 after two straight seasons with what you could probably call an excessive workload (80+ IP), but he was absolutely dominant during those two seasons. That kind of arm would look pretty nice in the Blue Jays bullpen during the late innings, even if Santos comes back in full form.
Could the down year make it possible for the Blue Jays to acquire an arm like Venters? Does the health thing scare them off? Do the Braves hold out for a package to land a higher-priced talent like Dexter Fowler?
I’d imagine that the team would be better off with a top reliever than Bonifacio, but time will tell whether the Blue Jays’ utilityman will land them just that.