Griffin: Blue Jays complete 10-player deal with Astros; recall Travis Snider
The Blue Jays and thier third-year GM Alex Anthopoulos on Friday morning pulled the trigger on a 10-player trade with the Houston Astros, keyed for Toronto by the acquisition of veteran lefthander J.A. Happ to bolster an embattled major-league starting rotation. The Jays also recalled outfielder Travis Snider from AAA-Las Vegas to bolster the starting lineup while Jose Bautista remains disabled with an injury to his left wrist.
In addition to Happ, 29, the Jays acquired righthanded reliever Brandon Lyon, 32, and righthander David Carpenter, 27.
The Jays gave up two major leaguers, outfielder Ben Francisco and righthander Francisco Cordero and five minor-league prospects, led by righthanders Asher Wojciechowski, 23, Joe Musgrove, 19, and David Rollins, 22. The Astros will also receive catcher Carlos Perez, 21, and a player to be named later, likely to be revealed by the end of August. The player to be named is quite probably a draft pick from the 2011 June process, since trades of those players are not allowed for one calendar year after they turn pro.
"We're obviously getting Happ for this year and he has two years of control," Anthopoulos said of the former Phillies' arbitration status through 2014.
"He's a starter and we need depth. We like his ability to strike guys out. We see him like when we acquired (Carlos) Villanueva, with a little bit of an upside. There's a significant gap between our upper minor-leagues and Low-A prospects. "
Recall that when the Jays had been negotiating to deal Roy Halladay to the Phillies back in 2009, Happ's name had come up in preliminary discussions, but the Northwestern University product stayed and was, instead, part of the Phils' July 2010 trade for Roy Oswalt with Houston that also included Anthony Gose. Happ's best season remains '09, with a 12-4 record and a 2.93 ERA for the Phils. Thus far in 2012, Happ is 7-9, with a 4.83 ERA in 18 starts and is 32-23 lifetime in the majors.
Francisco, 30, acquired by the Jays in the off-season, had seen his role become redundant with the emergence of Rajai Davis as a righthanded option to start in the outfield, while Cordero, 37, had become a favourite target for fans as he continued to struggle in 37 appearances, with a 3-5 record and a 5.77 ERA in 41 games.
The package of five Jays' minor leaguers comes from a second or third tier of young players from the rosters of A-Dunedin and below. The Astros were looking for numbers to re-stock their farm system and it seems like they got it.
"At the end of the day, we gave up guys in A(-ball) that have a chance to be alright," Anthopoulos said, damning the departed with faint praise. "I want to be fair to the pitchers. They have a chance to be solid, but are not our top prospects. This was a depth deal."
Happ and Lyon wil report to the Jays on Saturday in Boston, while Carpenter will head for AAA-Las Vegas to get some innings under his belt. He is looked upon as a major-league contributor later in the season. The Jays will have to make a move to send a pitcher down following Friday's game at Fenway Park. Happ will not immediately jump into the rotation, but as soon as either Aaron Laffey or Brett Cecil falters, he will join the starting five.
"For us, with a guy like Carpenter in the deal, at the end of the day we traded a bunch of guys for potentially three major-leaguers," Anthopoulos said.
Snider, a Jays' fan favourite whose career has been a rollercoaster of major-league opportunities and demotions, will take Francisco's spot on the 25-man roster and will become a starting outfielder receiving the majority of at-bats against both righthanders and lefthanders. The 24-year old had heated up at Vegas just as Gose was called up to replace Bautista earlier in the week. The former Jays' first-round pick had raised his Triple-A average to .335, with 13 homers and 56 RBIs in 56 games.
He lost out at spring training this year in the head-to-head left field battle with Eric Thames. Anthopoulos suggested that the decision on which outfielder goes down when Bautista returns to the active list, between Snider and Gose, will be determined on performances between now and then.
To make room on the 40-man roster, the Jays moved righthander Robert Coello to the 60-day disabled list with elbow soreness.