With a need for pitching, and free agency a gamble, could the Toronto Blue Jays really use Anthony Alford to pull off a trade?
The Toronto Blue Jays need pitching and have a good farm system, so if they find the free agent market to be more of a risk that they are comfortable with, they will look to trade for some arms. Of course, this will cost them the coveted prospect capital that they’ve worked hard to grow over the last few years. If they are looking to deal close(r) to big league ready talent to increase the type of return they get, one has to wonder what kind of value Anthony Alford presents.
According to MLB.com, when they listed a trade chip for each MLB team, Alford very well could be used as bait. They acknowledge the offensive struggles the 25 year old 2012 draft pick has experienced between his limited big league time and his time in Buffalo. He had such a difficult time that one might simply dismiss him as having any trade value at all.
However, the MLB post goes on to say: “…the 25-year-old is still an impressive athlete with some tools, and a team with 40-man roster flexibility that believes in Alford’s untapped potential could try to acquire him and give him a shot.”
There are a couple of truths in that: 1) the Blue Jays don’t have the 40 man roster flexibility that other teams do and 2) Alford does have untapped potential, the reason for which is a bit of a mystery. Sure, he’s had injuries, but to struggle the way he has is a bit confusing.
What is interesting about the above quote is that it implies that other teams would come calling on Alford. That is tough to envision given his (very short) MLB career .145/.203/.218 and almost unbelievable 11 wRC+. He had a bit more success at AAA as evidenced by his .259/.343/.754 line, but he failed to put up impressive numbers in key offensive categories like home runs, though he did steal 22 bases in Buffalo. His defense is solid, if not spectacular.
What is more likely is that Toronto would have to include Alford in a deal to get themselves pitching. And, given his offensive production, or lack thereof, he would likely need to be an ‘add on’ piece to a prospect that has more obvious upside, or as part of a pkg of players. Obviously, no one knows how other teams see any of Toronto’s players, regardless of level, so we can’t say how valuable he would be to them, but it’s tough to see Alford netting some big league starting pitching on his own.
Of course, there are always reminders where teams like Toronto trade for a guy like Derek Fisher because they value him in a position of need. So, we should never say ‘never’, but teams who are going to give up higher end pitching will need more than a Fisher or an Alford. After all, Toronto gave up a broken Aaron Sanchez to get Fisher. If he were the prime Sanchez, Toronto could have landed a better return.
Looking at the Blue Jays 40-man roster, we see a total of 7 outfielders listed. Aside from Randal Grichuk and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. there are a lot of question marks about just how effective this group can be. We could probably assume that Teoscar Hernandez should be a DH at this point, so that leaves Fisher, Alford, Jonathan Davis and Billy McKinney. For a lot of fans, this does not look like a big league outfield, but a AAAA group.
At this point, the Blue Jays do not even have a clear picture of just who will play their outfield. If they’re going to improve their entire on field product, they should be looking to address this. If they brought in a true center fielder, there is even less room for the guys on the OF bubble. That could make someone like Alford expendable.
We all love Anthony Alford, but the reality is that he has struggled to stay healthy and be successful at the big league plate. Small sample size, or not, he comes with some doubt. For what it is worth, his projections don’t see much of an improvement: .225/.290/.639.
So, it is difficult to agree with the MLB.com assessment that he is someone who could be dealt. Anything is possible and, sure, teams could like his athleticism and potential. But, unless he is an add on to a larger package that lands Toronto a legitimate big league starter, we should expect that he stays in the organization.
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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.