Desperate times call for desperate measures. With a growing list of injuries to key members of lineup (Brett Lawrie on the disabled list, Edwin Encarnacion probably going to be placed there, and Adam Lind not being able to run or field really) and a recent disappearance of any offensive power, the Blue Jays are looking to everyone and anyone for help even to those with a broken back.
On Sunday, Jon Morosi reported that the Blue Jays and the Padres have continued to chat about third baseman Chase Headley while this morning someone named Ollie Connolly (real name?) reported that a source told him that the two teams are actually "closing in" on a trade.
Blue Jays closing in on Chase Headley http://t.co/NDAN7UdMlK— Ollie Connolly (@OllieUKEZ) July 7, 2014
Whether Connolly's report is credible or not I think we can use this chance to re-assess whether the hobbling Padre would be a good fit for the club.
Chase Headley is having a down year: through 263 plate appearances, he is batting .217/.297/.332 with a wRC+ (remember, that's park-adjusted) of 84--that's Matt Dominguez level. This is coming from someone who has been quite above-average at the plate for the past few seasons (including an incredible 145 wRC+ score in 2012).
What is promising is that his strikeout rate (23.6%) is not out of whack compared to his career rate (22.7%), and a close look at his plate discipline shows that it isn't what has been ailing him. His batted ball profile also looks pretty close to career norms (with his HR/FB ratio regressing back to the mean from the insane 21.4% of 2012).
What does look out of place is a fall off in infield hits (4.3% career to 2.8% this year) and FanGraphs' Speed Score (4.2 career to 2.9 this year). These factors (plus the good ol' Luck Dragons) are likely responsible for Headley's .268 BABIP this year (compared to his career mark of .330).
Headley was suffering from knee pain in 2013 and went for surgery to repair a torn meniscus immediately after the end of the season. After recovering from the surgery, he was sidelined with a strained calf and started spring training on crutches. And most recently--and perhaps most seriously--Headley received an epidural to calm down a herniated disk in his lower back.
These ailments (and whatever else hasn't been announced) aren't just signs of a risk that he could miss time going forward, but that we might not enjoy seeing his BABIP regress fully to his career mean. Now, in the 11 games since his epidural shot, Headley has bounced back to hit .300/.365/.325 (.387 BABIP) and had a 4-for-4 game on Independence Day, so maybe the he was injected with a vial of panacea mistakenly labelled as epidural. Now I'm not a doctor so I can't say whether that panacea wears off upon contact with artificial turf.
Over his career, the switch-hitting Headley is weaker hitting left-handed pitchers, but his .255/.320/.402 mark is an improvement over Juan Francisco's splits (go look for yourself if you want to). And on the other side of the game, Headley offers solid defense, which (at least by the numbers) have not fallen off this year. Despite that hitting line, his defense has given Headley 0.9 WAR.
Chase Headley, 30, is entering free agency for the first time after 2014, and is making $10,525,000 this season, of which the Padres have already paid for a little over half of. The other two options the Blue Jays have been linked to, Martin Prado and Aaron Hill, are both signed through 2016.
Looking at these points, I think Headley is a good match for the 2014 Blue Jays. The amount he's owed for the rest of the year, his struggles so far, and his injury risk, means that he can likely be picked up for a relative bargain. The Blue Jays just have to convince the Padres that they really don't want to offer him a qualifying offer at the end of the season. He can test out he waters (and turf) in Toronto for the rest of the season and both he and the team will have flexibility going forward, unlike with the Hill and Prado contracts. Of course, other teams are probably interested in Headley for the same reasons as the Blue Jays, so if Toronto is close, I think they should strike.