Blue Jays get Happ, Lyon in swap of 10 with Astros
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TON -- Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos addressed the lack of pitching depth on his club by orchestrating a 10-player deal with Houston on Friday morning.
Toronto received left-handed starter J.A. Happ, along with relievers Brandon Lyon and David Carpenter. The Astros got veterans Francisco Cordero and Ben Francisco, along with four Minor League prospects and a player to be named.
Anthopoulos made the move with a little under two weeks remaining until the non-waiver Trade Deadline to help fill some holes in a pitching staff that has been decimated by injuries for the past two months.
"I know there's a lot of players involved in this deal," Anthopoulos said after the surprise move was announced. "I think it looks like a greater deal because of the quantity of players, but at the end of the day we gave up some guys in A-ball we think have the chance to be all right, and we got some much-needed depth for us that can help for the current year and moving forward."
Happ went 7-9 with a 4.83 ERA in 18 starts for the Astros this season. The 29-year-old was originally linked to the Blue Jays back in 2010, when he was still a member of the Phillies, but he remained in Philadelphia until later being moved to Houston in a multiplayer deal for Roy Oswalt.
For now, Happ will join the Blue Jays' bullpen, but it's likely only a matter of time before he moves into the starting rotation. Anthopoulos said the club will monitor the situation on a start-by-start basis, and if anyone begins to struggle, that will open the door for Toronto's latest acquisition.
Happ has gone through somewhat of an inconsistent season. He has recorded 12 quality starts in 18 outings, but he has also surrendered at least five runs in four different games. He will help provide more depth for a club that currently has Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison on the disabled list.
"Getting J.A. Happ, having two years of control beyond this year, [arbitration] eligible, the fact that he's been a starter, thrown out of the bullpen in the past as well," Anthopoulos said of the reasoning behind the deal. "We need some depth going forward for the current year and even beyond.
"We like Happ's ability to strike guys out. We think it's very similar to when we got Carlos Villanueva a few years ago, and we think there's a little bit of upside to him."
Lyon, who is a free agent at the end of the year, provides another relatively reliable arm for the Blue Jays to use in middle relief. The 11-year veteran owns a 3.25 ERA in 37 games this season and has a total of 78 career saves.
The 32-year-old Lyon will join forces with Darren Oliver and Jason Frasor to help bridge the gap to closer Casey Janssen. The 27-year-old Carpenter is slated to report to Triple-A Las Vegas, but he is still potentially a key to the deal considering his high strikeout totals at the Minor League level in recent years.
"Lyon obviously has a lot of experience in that back end," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "Now in the role that he's in, to be able to bridge to the closer, it gives us a guy with some certainty about him.
"The fact is he has pitched in that role, and we can spread some things out a little bit more as far as the workload goes."
The move doesn't come without a cost for the Blue Jays. They are sending a series of prospects to Houston, including Asher Wojciechowski and Joe Musgrove, ranked by MLB.com as the club's 10th and 11th best prospects, respectively.
Wojciechowski, 23, was the 41st pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft and put up a 7-3 record and 3.57 ERA in 18 starts for Class A Dunedin this season. The 19-year-old Musgrove was picked 46th overall in the 2011 Draft and is 1-1 with a 3.51 ERA over two pro seasons.
Also going the other way were left-hander David Rollins and catcher Carlos Perez. Rollins, 22, was 10-1 with a 2.46 ERA in 25 starts over two professional seasons in the Blue Jays' system, and the 21-year-old Perez was batting .269 with five homers and 40 RBIs for Class A Lansing this year.
Perez entered the year ranked as the club's No. 8 prospect by MLB.com, but it would have been tough for him to advance through the Blue Jays' system considering the organization's overall depth behind the plate.
"At the end of the day, we traded a bunch of kids who certainly have a lot of talent," Anthopoulos said. "But we got two guys for us that are big league players -- more of a long term in Happ and Carpenter, and certainly a guy like Lyon, that obviously has an established big league career to help us for the current year.
"We are getting, potentially right now if Carpenter does find his way back up here, three big league players. You know, to have the kids in the Minor Leagues in [Class A], it seems like a fair trade-off for both sides."
The trade was welcomed with open arms in the Blue Jays' clubhouse. Toronto entered play on Friday 3 1/2 games back of the Wild Card, and the acquisition of some much-needed depth brought a dose of positivity to a team that hasn't had much to celebrate in recent weeks.
It's also expected to help ease the burden on veteran relievers Janssen, Oliver and Frasor, who have been overworked in recent weeks.
"I think it shows that they're trying upstairs," Janssen said. "You hate to say it, because I don't really know much about the prospects, but I'm kind of a guy, by the time those prospects got to the big leagues, who knows where I'm going to be? I'm a big 'play for the now' as opposed towards the future, and I think that this move is showing that we're going to try for this year."
In a corresponding move, the Blue Jays recalled outfielder Travis Snider from Las Vegas, and he was in Boston for Friday night's game against the Red Sox. Toronto also moved right-hander Robert Coello to the 60-day disabled list to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.