I think this offseason has shown us that the Jays do have the money to spend, but only if the investment is worth it. We saw this last year as well in the Colby Rasmus deal where AA took Mark Teahen's salary for 2011 and 2012 in order to complete the deal. Why not employ this approach a bit more this offseason?
Matt Garza would be a good fit for the Jays on the surface: He's pitched well in the AL East (1.25 WHIP, .270 BABIP during his years in TB) has a strong durable pitchers' frame (6'4', 215 Lbs) and has swing/miss stuff that AA likes (avg FB is around 93-94 and is Z-Swing rates were around 67% with the Rays. For some reason he decided to throw considerably more sliders and breaking pitches with the Cubs in 2011 which led to more contact being made against him. IF he reverts back to the power pitcher he was with the Rays, he'd a good fit.
The question is how much will it cost? On the surface, if we use the Latos/Gonzalez deals as comps, you are looking at 4 quality young players going back to the Cubs. You might be able to pare that down to three players if you factor that Gio/Latos are controlled longer, but it's still going to take a package involving Travis D'Arnaud or another top prospect. It's unlikely a Travis Snider, Kyle Drabek and Carlos Perez prospect would get this deal done.
The Jays need a power bat in their lineup and while we have a log jam in the OF, that can be resolved in a trade. Why not take on Alfonso Soriano to reduce the price on Garza. He's owed $54MM over the next three years, which is something the debt-heavy Cubs probably would love to get rid of. Soriano still plays a decent LF and does have the option to move back toward 2B if necessary (probably not optimal). More importantly he can DH in the AL. His batspeed is still there. He'd be a good replacement for Edwin Encarnacion who essentially fulfills that purpose. Both would give you an OBA of around .340 and a WAR around 1.5. While EE is considerably cheaper, you have to consider the fact that you would might be able to drive down the price of Garza.
Garza/Soriano and $20MM for Mark Teahen ($5MM for only 2012 and the Cubs need a versatile bench player), Travis Snider and Kyle Drabek.
Jays will have to cover $34MM of Soriano's remaining salary, which works out to $11MM/year but if you subtract Teahen's $5.5MM here it's basically $28.5MM in additional capital to get Garza or roughly $6.3MM/WAR considering he gives you 1.5 WAR. Still a high valuation on a guy who is starting to decline (his O-Swing rates are starting to increase), but you get solid #3 starter who can give you 4.5 WAR at a discounted price.
The move allows a full-season platoon between Thames/Francisco in either LF/DH while Soriano plays everyday in either LF/DH.
A similar move could be done with the Mets and Jonathan Niese/Jason Bay. Bay is owed $35MM (assuming a $3MM buyout in 2014) and with the Mets looking to raise cash via $20MM ownership increments, they might be amenable to package of young controllable players to get rid of salary. I prefer Garza however given his ability to miss bats and his prior comparables in the AL East which is the toughest division in baseball.