The latest of these to hit the market is rumored to be Ryan Hanigan, who saw his backup/platoon job with the Cincinnati Reds suddenly diminished with their acquisition of Brayan Pena to a two-year contract on Friday. In a way, you could almost say it’s been a long time coming, as the 33-year old had been pegged as something of a placeholder for Devin Mesoraco, only to find his way into more playing time due to the former top prospect’s struggles.
And now with a Mesoraco/Pena platoon set vs. LHP/RHP, the veteran finds himself the odd man out in his final year of arbitration, with the team likely to dangle him as trade bait due to his age and relative affordability.
That could very well work out for the Blue Jays, who happens to have an opening for a player with experience in that kind of role should they end up having to keep J.P. Arencibia in 2014 (they’re not likely to just let him walk, and it’s not like his trade value is through the roof). The obvious source of concern with Hanigan here is that age isn’t exactly on his side, and he did have a pretty terrible season in 2013, going on the DL twice for two different issues.
However, the seven-year vet also has a track record of being a decent hitter and solid on-base threat otherwise, owning a career .262/.359/.343 line with a 12 percent walk rate compared to a 10.1 strikeout rate. In fact, he even though he did not end up playing a single full season in his career, his 7.8 fWAR accumulated from 2009-2012 ranks him 13th in MLB despite having the lowest number of PAs among the top-15 (1211).
There’s no real power in that bat (16 HRs), but he’s found a way to contribute, which makes him a player of interest as someone who can be comfortable playing both as a backup and starter if necessary and who won’t come with a lot of contractual commitment.
As far as what the Blue Jays would have to give up to acquire him, however, that’s where things might get more interesting.
Much like how the mega-trade between the Blue Jays and the Miami Marlins came to be, you can almost be assured that if Alex Anthopoulos is inquiring on Hanigan that he won’t be the only target in a potential deal. In fact, given Hanigan’s age and free agent status after 2014, it’s hard to imaging that Toronto (or any team, really) would give up any sort of significant asset for him (ie. top-15 prospect), making him the ideal target for a good ol’ package deal.
Could Brandon Phillips and his contract be in the mix here? The Blue Jays have more than one major hole to fill on their roster, and the Reds could be a viable dance partner to fill most, if not all of them. Throw in a Jose Bautista and a Homer Bailey into the mix, and well … you could let your imagination run wild, really.
So while the Blue Jays could use a backstop with Hanigan’s skills, I think it’s fair to say it’s the trade possibilities that his availability opens up which is more intriguing than just the potential of acquiring the veteran in a standalone deal.