Lind trade gives Blue Jays freedom to fill holes
Club has several positions to address, and move allows it some flexibility
TORONTO -- When the Blue Jays parted ways with Adam Lind earlier this month, general manager Alex Anthopoulos said one of the main reasons behind the deal was an increased need for roster "flexibility."
Anthopoulos used the term eight times during a 20-minute availability with reporters after Lind was sent to Milwaukee for right-hander Marco Estrada on Nov. 1. The move cleared upwards of $7.5 million in additional payroll and also opened a spot on the roster that could be filled in a variety of ways.
Toronto has several holes around the field, and a certain amount of creativity will be required to find the missing pieces. Losing a potentially elite bat in Lind could prove costly, but the upside is that Anthopoulos has more freedom to do what he wants.
"The deal is about reconfiguring the roster at this point," Anthopoulos said earlier this week. "We're never going to sit and talk about who we're going to try to acquire in trade, who we're going to go after in free agency, but again, Adam was a very productive hitter against right-handers.
"[He] hit in the middle of our lineup for a very long time. There's no question the offense and the bat will be missed, but we have some other areas of need on the club and sometimes you have to make some tough choices, tough decisions."
Toronto is currently in the market for at least one outfielder, a second or third baseman and multiple relievers. It's going to be difficult to get everything accomplished, but trading Lind does provide Anthopoulos with some additional options he might not have had otherwise. Here's a closer look at the potential impact of the Lind deal and what the club could look to do from here:
Trade a starting pitcher
Unlike most teams, the Blue Jays actually have some depth in the rotation to work from. The projected starting five is R.A. Dickey, Marcus Stroman, Mark Buehrle, Drew Hutchison and J.A. Happ, but that doesn't mean anything is etched in stone. Toronto has top prospect Aaron Sanchez and Estrada waiting in the wings for a starting job, and it's possible the club could deal from an area of strength to fill another need. Trading Buehrle makes the most sense, but his $19 million salary in 2015 also makes that unlikely. Happ is another possible trade candidate, and there's no guarantee Estrada won't be moved later this offseason to a team looking for help at the back end of the rotation.
Sign a significant free agent
Toronto will have to do some of its work through free agency, and dealing Lind means the club can explore options that might have been previously off limits. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons recently mentioned the possibility of going after someone like veteran designated hitter Victor Martinez, while a recent report from Sportsnet suggested the club could be in the market for catcher Russell Martin. Those two players wouldn't have been under consideration before, and while neither is an easy person to sign, it's at least something the organization can explore. If the Blue Jays went after someone like Martin, last year's starting catcher Dioner Navarro would receive some at-bats in the DH spot.
Hand the DH job to Justin Smoak
The Blue Jays declined Smoak's $3.65 million option for next season, but he remains under club control and is eligible for salary arbitration. Smoak figures to earn approximately $3 million next season, and while the former first-round pick has yet to really figure things out at the big league level, there's a line of thinking that his production could be increased from a move out of pitcher-friendly Safeco Field in Seattle and into the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre. Smoak does have one 20-homer season under his belt and he's still only 27 years old, so there's some upside there. But if the Blue Jays hand him the job, it's a noticeable downgrade compared to Lind.
Move forward without a traditional DH
There has been some talk over the past several months that the Blue Jays might be best served going without a full-time DH. The organization has been decimated with injuries during each of the past two seasons, and rotating players through this spot is one way guys could get additional rest. Jose Reyes noticeably wore down last season, and the Blue Jays need to limit his playing time on the turf, but ideally that would be done without lowering his at-bats. Moving players like Reyes, Navarro and Jose Bautista through the DH spot could be one way to keep everyone fresh.
Spend, spend, spend
Trading Lind really only makes sense if the Blue Jays reallocate his $7.5 million salary to fill another area of need. Toronto had a payroll slightly under $140 million this year, and while the club remains vague about exact numbers, president Paul Beeston was quoted as saying that number will rise in 2015. If the money is used and a number of holes on the roster are filled, then fans likely won't mind this deal. If the money isn't used and all that happened was the subtraction of Lind for Estrada, then the Blue Jays could have a problem on their hands.