At this point I think Alex Anthopoulos could write the "How to fill every hole in your team without making new ones" guide after his masterclass of an offseason. With left field being one of the few remaining holes on the team, he took from an area of surplus and filled that hole with a Canadian no less! Lefty J.A Happ has reportedly been traded to the Seattle Mariners for left-handed hitting Michael Saunders in a move that must be considered a win for Toronto. The deal almost certainly signals that the team is out of the Melky Cabrera sweepstakes and are content with Saunders as the replacement. Jayson Stark broke the news:
Saunders is a 28-year-old from Victoria, British Columbia who was drafted by the Mariners in the 11th round of the 2004 draft. After having a horrid start to his major league career from 2009-2011, the 6'4" outfielder turned it around and has been worth 2.1, 1.3, and 1.9 WAR in the past three years. He spent most of his time last season in right field, while he split duties in 2013 between left field and centre field. His defensive numbers don't blow you away mainly due to poor performances in centre bringing down his UZR totals, so he is certainly suited for a corner outfield spot.
Saunders' service time currently sits at 4.138 years and since he just barely missed the super two cutoff a few years ago, he is only eligible for arbitration this year for the second time which brings down his expected price tag. He is projected to earn $2.9 million this year, which is a steal for the value he is expected to provide.
There is a legitimate injury concern with Saunders though as Mike Wilner points out:
Saunders only played in 78 games this past season. Knee, shoulder and oblique injuries. But he's not OF version of Brett Lawrie. #Bluejays— Mike Wilner (@Wilnerness590) December 3, 2014
As for Happ, he leaves the Blue Jays after two and a half years of solid if unspectacular performances at the back end of the rotation. After coming over from Houston around the 2012 trade deadline, Happ pretty much earned his modest salary with ERAs in the mid-4.00's and became a fairly dependable member of the pitching staff. Obviously with the amount of arms the Blue Jays have, he had become expendable and was to be paid $6.7 million in 2015 which was getting a little steep for his 1ish WAR total each season.
There will be more to come as the story develops, but for the time being it has to be said. Bravo Alex.