Citing a report from Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, the Toronto Blue Jays have placed multiple calls to the Angels over the past few days about the availability of Howie Kendrick. Blue Jays general Manager, Alex Anthopoulos, has made it clear that his club is searching for upgrades all across the infield this offseason.
The Blue Jays would present an interesting dance partner for the Angels due to their plethora of pitching prospects. Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, and Daniel Norris are all considered top-tier starting pitching talents.
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It may be difficult to pry Marcus Stroman away from the Jays. Stroman made 20 starts in 2014 for the Blue Jays, and he was downright filthy. The former Duke University star went 11-6 in his debut season with a 3.65 ERA. Stroman had some typical rookie moments, but for the most part, he looked more like a wily veteran.
Daniel Norris and Aaron Sanchez are currently ranked as the top two prospects in the Blue Jays system according to MLB.com. Both young men made it to the show this past season, showing glimpses of what makes them so highly sought after. Sanchez did a great job coming out the pen in 2014, going 2-2 with a 1.09 ERA, and saving 5 games for the Jays. Norris was a September call-up appearing in six games, and making one start.
While Anthopoulos has been hesitant to include Stroman, Norris, or Sanchez in trade discussions in the past, he may be more open to the idea following two consecutive disappointing seasons. The Jays parting with any of these talented youngsters for Kendrick may be a bit farfetched, but pressure is mounting and Anthopoulos is planted squarely on the hot seat.
The Jays are open to moving veteran hurlers R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle. Dickey is a former Cy Young Award winner, but he has not pitched overly well since being acquired by the club in 2012. At this point in Buehrle’s career he offers little value outside of eating innings. The main reason the Angels likely have zero interest in either of these pitchers is their contract situations. Dickey is owed 12 million dollars in 2014, while Buehrle is owed a whopping 19 million next season.
A more likely scenario would be a trade built around veteran southpaw, J.A. Happ or young right-hander, Drew Hutchison. Happ did a nice job for the Blue Jays in 2014, going 11-11 with a 4.22 ERA across 26 outings. The Jays exercised their team option on Happ last week, and Happ is set to earn an affordable 6.7 million dollars in 2014. According to Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, the 32-year-old is generating plenty of interest from multiple clubs, and the Jays are listening.
Jul 12, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Drew Hutchison (36) on the mound against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Drew Hutchison is an intriguing name to watch as this situation develops. At just 24-years-old Hutch has already made 43 career starts for Toronto. Hutchison made significant strides in 2014, going 11-13 with a 4.48 ERA across 32 outings. His 154 strikeouts in 154.2 innings pitched speak to the movement he is able to generate. The fact that Hutch will not reach free agency till after the 2018 season may be what attracts the Halos most. Hutchison is highly regarded within the Jays organization, but it is believed they would be willing to part with him for the right piece.
The Angels are in the market for starting pitching, and at least on paper the Jays would be a good match. Nicholson-Smith reported earlier in the week that Howie Kendrick has a limited no-trade clause in his contract, and the Blue Jays are one of four teams on the list. This may be the biggest hurdle in any potential trade discussions.
Blue Jays pundits have opined that the club should pursue a new third baseman, and move Brett Lawrie to second base. One has to wonder if David Freese’s name has come up in any of the phone calls between the two clubs. While Freese would not yield as high of a return, dealing him instead of Kendrick to the Jays would eliminate potential problems with Howie’s no-trade clause.
After general manager, Jerry Dipoto, filled most of the Angels needs in deals completed earlier this week, you can bet the asking price for Howie Kendrick and David Freese has gone way up.