Toronto Blue Jays Could Use A Little Bit Of Cliff Lee (And More Philadelphia Phillies)

By Thom Tsang
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, Philadelphia Phillies, remember back when the Toronto Blue Jays traded you that ace for your season-long playoff push?

Yeah, about that … it’s perhaps time to return the favour.

It’s not exactly a secret that Alex Anthopoulos and Ruben Amaro Jr. aren’t strangers. After all, when you end up having to make a franchise-defining trade in your first months on the job, as Anthopoulos did when he pulled the trigger on the Roy Halladay deal, chances are you’re going to know your trade partner pretty well.

And now, the Blue Jays GM might have to use that knowledge to buy from the Phillies, instead of selling.

See, despite having gone all-in on the 2013 season with a number of well publicized acquisitions, Toronto is disappointingly no closer to a playoff spot than they used to be when the team were content with rolling with their group of relatively unknown misfits and redemption stories like Jose Bautista.

There’s even been talks about the team being a potential seller, with Josh Johnson‘s name being thrown around as a possibility for teams like the San Francisco Giants.

But why go all-in only to fold at the halfway mark?

If the choices are between standing pat, selling, or buying … why not go with the latter when the Blue Jays know they need the help in the department and that the position they’re in is fleeting?

Some might say there’s no point in doing something if it’s not to do it right, and in fact, there is already an option that’s just waiting to be explored between the two teams in the form of a veteran ace looking to go to a team with a shot at the playoffs.

His name, as you know by now, is Cliff Lee.

The benefits of acquiring the 34-year-old are self-evident, and there’s no need to pore over his stats here. The most important number that you need to know is that he’s a 3.5 fWAR player. Assuming that he would be able to add another 3.5 wins to the Blue Jays in 2013 (not to mention the bullpen arms he’d save), I think it’s pretty fair to say that it might just end up being a difference maker down the stretch.

But are the Phillies selling? And more importantly, so the Blue Jays have enough? Do they dare further deplete the farm and trade an arm like Aaron Sanchez or Roberto Osuna in a package to a Philadelphia system short on high-upside pitching prospects for a couple of very expensive years of Cliff Lee?

Money will almost certainly be a factor in why this kind of deal is seen unlikely to happen, but then again … wasn’t that the thought process before the team shocked the baseball world by taking on all those Miami Marlins?

Okay, even if that’s a bit of a stretch, let’s go down to perhaps an even better fit: Chase Utley.

That would be the end of fan favourite Munenori Kawasaki, but a three-month rental on an expiring contract, in a position on the field (and in the lineup) where the Blue Jays could more than use some help?

Why yes, I do think the Blue Jays and Phillies ought to do a little bit of talking over the next month or so, because they seem to have just what the other needs.

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