With regards to the Toronto Blue Jays and where they stand heading into the offseason, we know the following:
* The Jays, under the direction of Alex Anthopoulos, made great strides in 2010 toward building their status as legitimate contenders in the brutal AL East, where one could reasonably assume the club is now potentially only a few seasons away.
* Anthopoulos has stated he will be aggressive in pursuing trades this winter, and is unafraid of trading coveted prospects for sure-fire major league ballplayers give the proper circumstances.
* The Jays are deep at a position coveted by every franchise - young starting pitching - both at the major league level and within the system.
* The major league "trading circuit" is shaping up to be intense this winter, with speculation surrounding players such as Zack Greinke, Prince Fielder, and Colby Rasmus (to name a few).
Well then, given the above facts, it doesn't take much of a mathematician to put 2 and 2 together in deducing that the Jays could become involved in some pretty high-profile trade talks. The difficult question: should they?
Focusing on the above sampling of names, some are easy to dismiss, but some just might make some sense. In the case of mighty Prince, he does fit the Jays positional need at first base, the spot sure to be abandoned by Lyle Overbay (right?....), but there are just too many checks under the "avoid" column to seriously consider - at least for me. A Boras client with a year to go before free agency, sure to demand Ryan Howard-plus money. That's an albatross-potential contract, and ol' Princey just doesn't seem to fit the profile of athletic, multi-tooled athletes (not to mention cost-controlled) that the Jays front office prefers towards building a consistent contender.
But the other 2 names? Consider me varying degrees of intrigued.
Zack Greinke is a (soon to be) 27 year old pitcher with a Cy Young Award already under his belt, 2 years remaining on a reasonable contract, and the potential to be that undisputed "ace" contending clubs all clamor to acquire.
(though, I personally would argue that a deep, talented staff should always take precedence over one "name" guy, but I digress....)
The Kansas City Royals are also said to be willing to listen in on offers for his services this winter. So what would it take? A Halladay-lite package, perhaps, so start with Kyle Drabek and add pieces from there.
In the case of Rasmus, it seems hard to fathom that the St. Louis Cardinals would consider moving the emerging star, but given the very public dust-up with manager Tony LaRussa last season & LaRussa's near certain return, it might be something the Cards consider. He would also require a king's ransom to move.... but we're talking about a player ready to make an impact now, controllable for the foreseeable future. Again, start with Drabek as a necessary trade-chip.
Both players come with questions. Greinke has always had indisputably dominant "stuff", but only one superstar calibre season. Rasmus has always been labeled a future star, but whispers about his makeup and a less-than-impressed clubhouse following this season's LaRussa "incident" have to at least raise some eyebrows.
So should the Jays get involved? With these or any other players of this calibre who may hit the market? It would be hypocritical of me to bemoan the trading of prospects for established major league stars, given my past rails against the hoarding of prospect porn. Moving the likes of Kyle Drabek and/or Zach Stewart would hurt, but would be offset by the immediately-assisting talent coming back (AA ain't no fool).
Where would I draw the line? For me, that conversation probably begins and ends with Travis Snider. Because he is still going to be a fucking monster.
At the end of the day, this post is all about good times and meaningless speculation - of that I am keenly aware. But until the Jays make the playoffs, what else am I supposed to write about in October? Hotstove, baby!