Now Departing: Mike Napoli, Now Arriving: Frank Francisco
During his short tenure as General Manager of the Toronto Blue Jays, I think it’s pretty safe to say that most of the trades Alex Anthopoulos has made have been slam dunks thus far:
Brandon League for Brandon Morrow? Check.
Alex Gonzalez for Yunel Escobar? Check.
And AA7’s latest triumph, Vernon Wells for Juan Rivera and Mike Napoli?
86 million checks.
As crafty as the Silent Assassin is, I’m not so sure of this latest venture and am having great difficulty understanding the logic behind trading Mike Napoli for Frank Francisco.
It makes sense that the Blue Jays would be motivated to deal Mike Napoli because they’re essentially playing with house money. Napoli and Rivera were bonus offers after the real prize was unloading Vernon Wells contract.
Mike Napoli brings much more upside to this team than Frank Francisco, in my opinion. Napoli is an extremely valuable asset who can play multiple positions and hit for power, albeit his defensive reputation as a catcher precedes him. Napoli is also under team control for two more seasons.
At best, Frank Francisco is just a great reliever for the Jays who could walk away as a free agent at the end of the season. He could net a couple of draft picks if he becomes a Type A free agent, but the same scenario is true for Mike Napoli in two years.
It’s all very puzzling as this feels like the quintessential anti-Anthopoulos trade: trading away a young player with upside for another with very little upside. I can only see two reasons why AA would make this deal in the first place:
- He’s stockpiling relief pitchers in hopes they will achieve Type A or B free agent status and thus netting the Blue Jays a boatload of picks in the 2012 draft. With the increased scouting budget, maybe AA has been alerted to a bevy of talented prospects coming up in the 2012 draft. What better strategy to land those players than by grabbing as many picks as possible.
- The Silent Assassin is working on something much larger at hand. This is just my own personal conspiracy theory, but I think the Blue Jays are acquiring a multitude of relievers so they can package them for either a position player or a highly touted prospect.
Bullpen depth is important to a degree, but at this point the Blue Jays roster contains four different pitchers who all have closing experience. Add up the career saves between Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, Octavio Dotel and Jason Frasor and there’s 220 saves.
With a bullpen littered with veteran arms, it prevents players like Josh Roenicke, Jesse Carlson and even Jo-Jo Reyes from logging big league innings. More importantly, it delays us from discovering whether they have a future with this club.
If this trade had been made prior to the Octavio Dotel and Jon Rauch signings, then it would make perfect sense. However, bullpen depth is not something the Toronto Blue Jays need right now and yet they continue to stockpile pitchers like they’re on sale during Moonlight Madness at Zellers.
I don’t say this very often about Alex Anthopoulos, but I think he lost this trade. I’m not a fan of this deal … yet for the time being, I’ll consider that it could be part of something much larger at hand.
Ultimately, trading Mike Napoli for Frank Francisco is not going to make or break the Toronto Blue Jays; it’s simply a means to an end.
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