Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Depth. Depth, depth, depth.
Pitching depth, in particular.
This, as much as anything, has been the mantra of the Toronto Blue Jays since approximately the time that Alex Anthopoulos departed and Mark Shapiro, then Ross Atkins, arrived on the scene.
And yet today, thanks to some nudging from Jon Morosi, who says there will be scouts in the stands for tonight’s Jays-Yankees tilt (not terribly unlike there are for probably every game on the MLB calendar), we’re supposed to be talking about the team possibly trading Drew Hutchison.
One of the bigger stories this week has centred on the lingering question of whether the Jays will keep Aaron Sanchez a starter or move him back to the bullpen. This remains a question largely because of the presence of Gavin Floyd, who has looked entirely serviceable so far, and who the new regime brought in — on a big league contract, no less — precisely because of their insistence on depth.
Now you’re telling me that, at the same time as all this is very publicly going on, we’re supposed to believe that Hutchison might find himself in a trade-for-the-sake-of-a-trade, thinning that depth just as the club could potentially elect to give Floyd a rotation spot and use Sanchez in relief? Leaving the metal plate in the elbow that’s limited Floyd to just 14 starts and seven relief appearances since 20-effing-12 as the only thing that stands between the fifth spot in the Jays’ rotation and a list of warm bodies that starts at Jesse Chavez and then immediately nosedives?
Trolololosi says that he has “a strong sense that if the right offer came around for him, they would make a trade” (no shit, Sherlock) and suggests that having Hutchison pitch a night start against the Yankees, as he’ll do tonight, is precisely what a team would do if they were trying to showcase him.
I mean… huh?
I get that it’s a bit of a waste to have Hutchison in Buffalo — especially if Sanchez is allowed to start and remains on the depth chart ahead of him — and that there are other teams that would be interested in him (Morosi, according to Sportsnet, suggests the A’s and the Dodgers as two of them), and might even give up something decent for him. But what even could the Jays use, at this point?
A clear left field upgrade? A reliever? A backup catcher?
Are they really going to get a left fielder worth losing Hutchison (at what very possibly could be the low ebb of his value) and making Michael Saunders redundant for? Do they need a backup catcher or an extra reliever so badly as to give up Hutchison, with his big league experience, potential, and two years of team control after this one?
What they really need, I think quite obviously, is a guy a whole lot like Drew Hutchison.
Floyd breaking or faltering and Sanchez struggling too badly against lefties or ending up in the bullpen are not exactly unlikely scenarios! And that says nothing of what injuries might end up biting the other four starters.
Even accounting for the loss of Marcus Stroman for most of the year, the Jays were remarkably healthy on the pitching front in 2015, which contributed to their success in a major way. Part of that has to do with the fact that the organization seemed to turn a corner with respect to its awareness of the importance of injury prevention following their disastrous 2013, which saw Brandon Morrow make just 10 starts, Josh Johnson only 16 (many of which were awful), and found them starting Esmil Rogers 20 times, Todd Redmond 14 times, ten combined starts from Chien-Ming Wang and Ramon Oriz, and seven more combined out of Chad Jenkins, Ricky Romero, Aaron Laffey, and Sean Nolin. But we can’t just assume that will happen again.
Depth is what Atkins and Shapiro preached to us all winter long. Depth is, at least theoretically, a big part of the reason the club didn’t push harder to bring back David Price. Depth is especially necessary with a view to next year, with no prospect starters on the horizon, and as Floyd and Chavez and Cecil and Storen and RA Dickey all hit free agency — as do players at a couple other positions, where I think we all hope the club will be spending whatever resources they have, rather than buying more pitching out of a necessity precipitated in part by moving a guy like Hutchison away eight months prior!
Hutchison alone is hardly a panacea for all that, but to give up the crucial piece of depth and potential future that he represents, thereby putting so many eggs for this win-now season in the Floyd/Sanchez basket, after repeating all winter how important it is to have a proper taxi squad in Buffalo?
You’d sure have to get a hell of a piece back to justify it. A piece a whole lot better, I suspect, than you’re going to be able to get for Drew Hutchison at this point in his baseball odyssey.
In other words: huh?