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More Unfounded Trade Speculation

In the absence of any *real* trade news, I thought I would provide another instalment in my series of completely unfounded trade speculations.

Today’s thought: Edwin Encarnacion + Brett Cecil for Carlos Santana + Danny Salazar

Carlos Santana

Why the Jays want him

The Jays would use Carlos at C. Santana is not a great defensive catcher, but his dWAR for 2010-12 (when he played C full-time) was still positive, so he was not *that* much of a defensive liability. And the Jays have a "relatively mature" pitching staff, who should not need a defensive superstar behind the plate. Santana’s oWAR over the last two years was an excellent 9.4, and he is a switch-hitter, so the Jays could slot his career .367 OBP in the third slot and move Jose to cleanup.

The usual SSS caveats aside, Carlos has hit well in the Rogers Centre over the years, with a 1.027 OPS. Not definitive, but always a good sign.

Carlos is only 26, and he is under team control at favourable rates through 2017.

Why Cleveland can survive without him

Cleveland has no room for Carlos at C (whimper-Gomes-whimper). They tried him at 1B in 2013, where he put up a UZR/150 of -16.5. They propose to try him at 3B in 2014, where he has not played since A-ball. And Carlos has said that he does not want to DH … which is likely why Cleveland signed Jason Giambi for 2014.

Edwin Encarnacion

Why Cleveland wants him

Edwin has been a batting beast over the last two years, with an 8.2 fWAR and a third-in-baseball 78 HRs in that period. He is exactly the type of middle-of-the-order RH power hitter than Cleveland needs, and he can play 1B and 3B (in a pinch). He is also comfortable playing at DH – which Santana is not. And he is under team control through the next 3 years at a very affordable $9m/year.

Why Toronto can survive without him

Obviously, no team would want to lose an EE. But with Lind returning, and presumably playing 1B against RHP (which means about 70-75% of the time) and Lawrie firmly entrenched at 3B, Edwin would be DH-ing most of the time. Losing Edwin at DH would give the Jays a chance to rotate players like Bautista and Reyes through the DH position, keeping them in the lineup but resting their legs from the Dome turf. And the Jays are one of the few teams (based on 2013 stats) that could lose 16 home runs (EE’s 36 – Carlos’ 20) and still be among the top 10 in baseball in HR hit.

Brett Cecil

Why Cleveland wants him

Brett had an all-star year, with a 2.82 ERA (2.99 xFIP). He is a lefty, which could make him a good candidate to set up for the new Cleveland RHP closer, John Axford. CLE was in the bottom 10 in baseball in blown saves and relief pitching xFIP in 2013, and their best relievers (Allen, Shaw, Smith) are all righties.

Brett is arb-eligible for the next 3 seasons, so he is both under control and a bargain at arb prices.

Why Toronto can survive without him

Bullpen arms are one of Toronto’s few positions of strength. And with Loup and Perez, the Jays have two strong candidates for the shut-down lefty role. Further, the Jays need to deal a reliever or two, as they have pitchers without options that they risk losing if they send them down in 2014.

The Jays would also be "selling high" on Brett’s all-star season.

Danny Salazar

Why the Jays want him

The Jays need major-league-ready SP. Ideally young, controllable, relatively inexpensive SP with some upside. Salazar is 23 and pitched 10 games in 2013 for Cleveland with a 3.12 ERA and a 2.75 xFIP (and a 96 mph average fastball!). Yet he was not so highly touted a prospect that Cleveland would never consider dealing him: going into the 2013 season, Baseball America considered him Clevelands 6th best prospect and he did not make the BA top-100 list.

Salazar’s stats in 2013 were not ideal for the Dome, with a FB% of 39.8% (league average 35.6%) and a GB% of 34.4% (league average 43.3%). But those figures were both distorted by a K% of 30.8% (league average 20%). And (a) SSS and (b) 23 years old.

Why Cleveland can survive without him

No team has "too much pitching". But Cleveland has an unusual number of young pitchers behind Justin Masterson and Jimenez (who some expect to resign with Cleveland). Kluber and McAllister appear to be near-locks to make the 2014 rotation, and Tomlin and Carrasco are also in strong contention. And Mickey Callaway (the Cleveland pitching coach) strongly believes that Trevor Bauer will also be ready to pitch in the big leagues in 2014. Cleveland might also see dealing Salazar as "selling high" based on the small sample size of 10 games.

What do you think?

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