The Jays appeared to go all-in last year, trading several top prospects for veterans that would help them win in 2013. Whoops. The Jays lost 17 of their first 26 games and never recovered, finishing 14 games under .500 and last in the American League East. The Jays seem to now be on a tight budget with a team that's built to win now and they need help. What kind of help? Pitching help. Enter: Jeff Samardzija.
Let's lead this off by level-setting everyone. I'm not a scout. I don't talk to scouts. I have zero contacts inside the industry. But, I have a laptop with an internet connection and that gives me information. Here's what I'm looking at, in case you'd like to play along
For the purpose of the Jays system, I'm going to focus exclusively on their pitchers, both because I think that's what the Cubs will be most interested in and because the Jays are loaded with them.
Aaron Sanchez, RHP, High A: 86⅓ IP, 7.82 K/9, 4.17 BB/9, 3.63 FIP, 3.34 ERA
Widely regarded as a Top-50 prospect, Sanchez is at worst the #2 player in the Blue Jays system and projects as a future No. 2. Sanchez didn't really put up mind-blowing numbers in High-A, walking a lot of guys and not striking a whole lot of guys out, which only continued in the Arizona Fall League. The interesting thing about Sanchez is that even though he's so well thought of, his only current consensus plus pitch appears to be his fastball, which sits in the mid 90s with life. His curve ball seems to be his second best pitch, with services on the fence of whether or not it's plus, but everyone agreeing they think it'll get there. He also throws a change that the above sites think can eventually get to plus, but is currently average. The biggest flaw here appears to be that Sanchez needs to work on his command.
Marcus Stroman, RHP, Double A: 111⅔ IP, 10.4 K/9, 2.18 BB/9, 3.21 FIP, 3.30 ERA
Stroman will probably end up in most Top 100s, but there is a lot of debate on his future role in the big leagues. The point of contention revolves around his height: Stroman is listed at 5'9" and he could be even shorter than that. The list of successful MLB starters at 5-9 or under is not very long, so many think his eventual role will be as a high leverage reliever. Stroman throws a plus mid-low 90s fastball, a plus cutter and a plus slider to go with a developing change up. He's able to maintain his velocity on his fastball late into games as well. The height really seems to be the primary issue here, with services questioning whether his body can hold up and whether he can get downward plane on his fastball. He could end up as high as a No. 2 or he could end up in the bullpen.
Roberto Osuna, RHP, Low A: 42⅓ IP, 10.84 K/9, 2.34 BB/9, 5.53 ERA, 3.55 FIP
Osuna had Tommy John surgery and could return in 2014. He projects as a No. 2 or No. 3 starter with a good fastball, but his secondary pitches and control need a bit of work. Osuna is only 18, so he's got time on his side, but there are also concerns about his maturity and his weight.
Daniel Norris, LHP, High A: 85⅔ IP, 10.4 K/9, 4.6 BB/9, 3.48 FIP, 4.20 ERA
Norris has a No. 3 ceiling, but he needs to improve his command in order to reach it. He throws a fastball that can sit in the mid 90s and his breaking pitch (some called it a curve, some a slider) can be a plus pitch. Everyone talks about his athleticism and he was able to tinker his delivery last year, which helped him decrease his walks. Norris only played one game in High-A, so he'll probably start the season there.
Sean Nolin, LHP, MLB (Stats from Double A): 92⅔ IP, 10.00 K/9, 2.43 BB/9, 3.01 ERA, 2.69 FIP
Nolin is a MLB-ready starter whose repertoire includes a fastball, change up, slider and curveball, all of which are average with the exception of his plus change. He makes it all work with plus command and that's what gives him a No. 4 starter projection.
Alberto Tirado, RHP, Rookie Ball: 48⅓ IP, 8.19 K/9, 3.72 BB/9, 1.68 ERA, 3.39 FIP
The Jays' rookie ball squad had several high upside arms of interest and the most highly thought of is Tirado, an 18-year-old out of the Dominican Republic. He has the potential to be a No. 2 starter if he can improve his stamina, command and the consistency of his delivery. He throws a mid 90s fastball that's currently plus and a change up and slider that services are betting both get to plus.
Chase DeJong, RHP, Rookie Ball: 56 IP, 10.61 K/9, 1.61 BB/9, 3.05 ERA, 1.90 FIP
DeJong is a projectable 2012 second-round pick who has a chance to be a No. 3 in the big leagues. His fastball and curve ball both project to plus.
Others to keep an eye on:
Matt Smoral, D.J. Davis, A.J. Jimenez, Franklin Barreto, Jairo Labourt, Anthony Gose, John Stilson and Tom Robson.
Sean Nolin, Chase DeJong & Alberto Tirado
Daniel Norris, Chase DeJong & Alberto Tirado
That's about right:
Aaron Sanchez, Sean Nolin and Chase DeJong
Sean Nolin, Chase DeJong, Daniel Norris, Alberto Tirado and John Stilson
Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman and anyone
Feel free to tear my proposed deals to shreds in the comments and create your own.