The trade between the Toronto Blue Jays and Miami Marlins that involves approximately 37 players (give or take a few) and is still in the process of being, well, processed by the Commissioner’s Office has already been covered aplenty on the parent site, including here, here and here. And now there’s a report that the Jays will sign Melky Cabrera for $16 million over two years. What follows, then, is a very focused angle on a pair of transactions that have been and will continue to be ceaselessly talking-headed, ink-spilled and Interwebbed to death this week and next: A breakdown of the impact on the fantasy values of a handful of Blue Jays prospects.
For more on the young talents headed to South Beach, fellow RotoGraphs prospecter JD Sussman’s rundown can be found here.
ACTION: Blue Jays acquire C John Buck; and trade C Jeff Mathis
PROSPECT IMPACT: C Travis d’Arnaud
Toronto is suddenly overloaded with starting-caliber catchers of the platoon variety. (No, the departed Mathis wasn’t even platoon-worthy.) Buck and J.P. Arencibia are likely to split the job to start 2013, but both are right-handed hitters, so it won’t be a typical lefty-righty mix-and-match scenario. The guess here is that Arencibia remains the primary starter (think: 60% of the starts), so the Blue Jays can build up his trade value over the first half of the season. Once d’Arnaud, who is arguably baseball’s top all-around catching prospect, has shown he’s recovered from the knee tear that ended his season, he’ll get the call — perhaps even before the All-Star break — and take over the majority of starts, while still ceding some PT to Buck as he learns on the job.
FANTASY VALUE: Provided either Arencibia or Buck is traded by midseason, not a whole lot changes for d’Arnaud next year, aside from the names keeping the Blue Jays’ catching gear warm for him and the fact that Toronto is now less likely to rush him. Beyond 2013, d’Arnaud could be a legitimate Top 10 fantasy catcher, especially if Arencibia is out of the pic.
ACTION: Blue Jays acquire RHP Josh Johnson and LHP Mark Buehrle; and trade RHP Henderson Alvarez
PROSPECT IMPACT: RHPs Drew Hutchison, Noah Syndergaard, Aaron Sanchez
First, let’s point out that while Hutchison is actually no longer a prospect — he pitched more than 50 innings in 2012 — he’s still worth lumping in here for discussion purposes because this trade potentially hurts his fantasy value the most of this trio, as he’s the only one of the Jays top young arms who could be in the rotation any time soon. Even though he’s recovering from August Tommy John surgery, Hutch could, in theory, be back very late next season, if not certainly to start 2014. Josh Johnson only has one year left on his deal, so he’s not really going to be getting in the way of Hutchison, let alone Syndergaard or Sanchez, neither of whom will be ready to reach the majors for at least another season-and-a-half anyway. Buehrle, though, will be around through 2015, which eats up one spot, and the other members of the five-man for 2013 and beyond appear to be Brandon Morrow, Ricky Romero and J.A. Happ (with Kyle Drabek lurking in the background). Even without Henderson Alvarez, that is a well-occupied rotation full of pitchers under team control for the next few years. No doubt, lots will change before either Syndergaard or Sanchez are ready to break into the mix — or even before Hutchison is ready to return — but the bottom line is: If these young arms pitch as they’re projected to, the Jays will find a way to fit them in, even if the game of musical chairs just got a bit more crowded.
FANTASY VALUE: Hutchison looks to be the arm with the most to lose in fantasy formats, since he will have to fight harder to return to — and stay in — the rotation once he’s healthy, as he’ll now have to deal with being blocked by Buehrle and losing ground to both Syndergaard and Sanchez. As for those two, even if they both take huge leaps forward now that the developmental reins are off in their second go-rounds of full-season ball, it’s unlikely either one would make it to Toronto before mid-2014, but they still rate as borderline Top 10 pitching prospects right now, making them big-time targets in keeper formats.
ACTION: Blue Jays sign OF Melky Cabrera; acquire INF/OF Emilio Bonifacio; and trade OF Jake Marisnick
PROSPECT IMPACT: OFs Anthony Gose and Moises Sierra
Again, like Hutchison, both Gose and Sierra are no longer technically prospects, because they each exceeded the 130 at-bat mark in 2012, so we’re stretching the semantics just a bit. These two are most most affected — in a negative way — by the Jays’ wheelings, dealings and signings this week. With great speed, good instincts and a super arm, Gose has the athletic ability to be a plus defender in center. Problem is, he’s still incredibly raw on offense, so he needs more time at Triple-A to iron things out. Sierra, on the other hand, profiles as more of a fourth outfielder, but one with enough power, arm and athleticism that he could have mattered for fantasy purposes in deep AL-only leagues. But with Jose Bautista locked into right field, Colby Rasmus hanging on in center and Cabrera taking over in left, the outfield motel is at capacity — and because the Jays are now putting up the bright, flashing neon “Contenders” sign in the window of their expectations for the 2013 season, they are less likely to entrust an everyday job (or even a backup one) to young, inexperienced and still-flawed players like Gose or Sierra. Speaking of backups, one figures those jobs will fall to Rajai Davis and Emilio Bonifacio.
FANTASY VALUE: In the short-term, Gose and Sierra both takes huge hits because the remodeled Jays just don’t have any room for either player, even in a fourth or fifth outfielder gig. One of two things could save Gose’s value beyond 2013, though: Either he gets traded elsewhere or Rasmus continues to disappoint enough that he gets dealt, opening up the job for Gose. In that case, the silver lining is that Gose would actually have a better opportunity to prove he can be a starting centerfielder, especially without having to hear Marisnick’s footsteps.
Jason Catania is an MLB Lead Writer for Bleacher Report who also contributes to ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Insider and MLB Rumor Central, focusing on baseball and fantasy content. When he was first introduced to fantasy baseball, Derek Jeter had 195 career hits, Jamie Moyer had 72 wins and Matt Stairs was on team No. 3. You can follow him on Twitter: @JayCat11