It’s no secret that the Blue Jays have an abundance of relievers. Casey Janssen and Sergio Santos are both #ProvenClosers, while Steve Delabar and Brett Cecil appeared in the 2013 All Star game. After those four, the Blue Jays have more than a handful of guys that possess the stuff to be able to dominate out of the bullpen if given the chance. Because of this, Alex Anthopoulos has made it no secret that he is willing to trade a couple of his relievers to improve the ball club this off-season. When it comes to teams that are interested in a closer, the Tigers are front and centre. After falling in the ALCS this season, Detroit’s off-season needs are headed by improving their bullpen. GM Dave Dombrowski talked about this a few days ago at the press conference to introduce new manager Brad Ausmus.
“We’re going to have a closer — we’re going to pursue somebody to pitch at the back-end of the bullpen,”
As most of you I’m sure already know, the Blue Jays biggest needs this off-season include a catcher, a 2nd baseman, and one or two starting pitchers. According to ESPN’s Paul Swydan(Insider needed), Detroit’s biggest hole this winter is at the catcher position. He says the current Tigers catcher, Alex Avila, didn’t cut it this year, and the Tigers must look to bring in a better catcher from the free agent market, like Brian McCann or Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
A trade between the Tigers and Blue Jays centred around Alex Avila and one of the Jays high-end relief arms makes all type of sense. Avila might have fallen out of favour in Detroit after failing to live up to expectations he set for himself after putting up 4.6 fWAR in 2011, but he is the perfect fit for Toronto.
He owns a career walk rate of 12.7% in close to 1800 plate appearances, 7% more than J.P Arencbia’s career rate. His wRC+ and wOBA have both shot down since 2011, but a major factor in that is his BABIP regressing to the mean(it was at a ridiculous .366 in 2011) Even so, his 92 wRC+ this year, the worst of his career, is still better than J.P. Arencibia‘s career best of 91 set in 2011.
When it comes to defense, the gap between Arencibia and Avila is a drastic one. As we all know, defensive metrics are risky, especially for catchers.But, if we sway from the metrics, Avila is actually very underrated, as he calls a great game and is also a good receiver. His arm isn’t the best, but at this point, almost all catchers are an upgrade over what we saw J.P. Arencibia do when it comes to throwing out base runners this past year.
Alex Avila has had a couple of down years since having a fluky breakout season in 2011. He will never be the 4 and a half win player he was then, but he still very capable of being worth 2-3 wins above replacement. On the other hand, J.P. Arencibia will probably never reach 2 wins, and is more likely to settle around 1. Toronto has a flooded bullpen, and Alex Anthopoulos should give Dave Dombrowski a call to discuss a Santos-Avila type trade. It might take more than that, but at just 26 years old, and with 2 years left of control, he is a great trade target that AA has to fill one hole without creating another.