News broke this past week that the Jays were inquiring about Padres bullpen arms, specifically Heath Bell’s arm. I think all of us collectively moaned and groaned at the thought of this. After all, why would a team in fourth place with no chance of contending this season go after a 33-year-old closer being courted by all the contenders? Especially considering the wealth of veteran right-handers already occupying spots in Toronto’s bullpen.
The answer is simple: Alex Anthopoulos is a crafty mother-trucker.
As ESPN’s Buster Olney noted earlier today via Twitter, the Jays interest in Bell is most likely purely an interest derived from Bell receiving Type-A free agent status this offseason. Now, you may be saying, “but Travis, isn’t it very likely that the Jays would have to give up more in a trade than the equivalent of two draft picks in the next draft?”
The answer is, maybe not.
The trade market is absolutely flooded with right-handed relievers which drives the asking price down. Another factor is the lack of offense in Major League Baseball this season; most teams are already doing a good job of preventing runs so there aren’t as many in the market for expensive relievers.
All of this means that sure-fire Type-A free agent relievers such as Bell and his setup man Mike Adams may be acquired for less than what the teams would get when they sign elsewhere this offseason
The Padres have also said they are now less likely to trade their two relief aces*, most likely because they are worth more as free agents than they are on the trade market.
If either of those two players could be acquired by the Jays for less than what a first- and sandwich-round pick are deemed to be worth, than I am all for them going for it.
And those who are worried that the new CBA will affect the draft pick compensation rule, it may, but not until next season. Even if a new CBA is hammered out before the offseason festivities truly get underway, there is no way it will start to take effect right away; next year would be that year.
We’ve said it before, Alex Anthopoulos is a ninja…let him work his magic.
*– Eric Karabell mentioned this today on ESPN’s Baseball Today podcast.