According to one report, the Toronto Blue Jays have discussed a trade for David Robertson with the Chicago White Sox.
The fact that the Toronto Blue Jays need bullpen help is no secret. It certainly is not a surprise. When you look at the roster as it stands right now, they are in need of some reliable arms to make up for what they’ve lost, and to provide depth for their starting rotation. So, it should not shock you to find out that conversations are taking place, and have been for a while.
This is an interesting little rumor in that it has several different angles to it. Would he be a welcome addition to the Blue Jays’ ‘pen? Sure. But, that doesn’t mean that we should expect it to happen.
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Adding a 31 yr old who has 30+ saves in each of the last 3 seasons, and has chipped in 60+ innings would enable the Blue Jays to push the rest of their relievers down a notch, adding much needed depth. That means that Jason Grilli and Joe Biagini could be used in a bit of a different role. Combined with Roberto Osuna, this would be quite the foursome.
When you hear the words “discussion” you have to keep an open mind about what exactly that means. Discussions can entail casual check ins, in depth trade pursuit, or running for the hills when asking prices are revealed. It would make sense that the Blue Jays’ involvement in this particular discussion resembled the last incarnation.
There are a couple of reasons Toronto would politely hang up the phone with a “Thanks, but no thanks” tone. Firstly, Robertson is owed $25M over the next 2 seasons ($12M in 2017, $13M in 2018). While club control of a top shelf reliever is a coveted commodity, there is no indication that the Blue Jays would be willing to fork over this kind of money. Even though they keep making moves, and adding to payroll, there cannot be much left in the wallet at this point. Their payroll is likely not in a situation to take on such a commitment.
If the White Sox are indeed looking to move Robertson, you can bet that they’ll be looking for a return of substance. While the Blue Jays have a few close to major league options to offer clubs (see Dalton Pompey, Justin Smoak or even Melvin Upton Jr., their farm system is not ready to take the kind of hit that this kind of deal would command. Management has done a greta job of restocking the system over the last year or so. They are not about to go all Alex Anthopoulos on this kind of deal and undo all of their work. There are certainly pieces there to get a deal done, but Toronto is not likely to part with them. Even if they could convince Chicago to take on salary (a la San Diego & Upton Jr), that would mean more prospect capital going the other way.
Robertson is definitely a reliever that could help this team. But, the club’s attention is likely on the lefty arms available, rather than another righty, even if lefties hit just .207 against him in 2016. The expense of this type of deal seems a bit out of reach for the Blue Jays at this time. That is not to say that there was no conversation. It could have happened much earlier in the offseason, before money went elsewhere. But, it would be a surprise to see this amount to anything substantial.
Now, as Cafardo says, the White Sox might be able to secure more of a return in the summer at the Trade Deadline. And, if the Toronto Blue Jays are in need then, things could change. But, for now, the only thing we can take away from this is that GM, Ross Atkins is leaving no stone unturned, even the stones that this club may have passed by in the past.
*Featured Image Credit: Keith Allison UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.