A TRADE! A TRADE! Left-handed reliever Tyler Ybarra has been traded to the Colorado Rockies for LHP Jayson Aquino. The 25-year-old Ybarra is still considered a pitching prospect the way that Kim Kardashian is considered a celebrity. After being a fairly reliable reliever in the low minors, Ybarra made the step up to Double-A New Hampshire last season and saw his strikeouts decrease and his ERA skyrocket.
Ben Nicholson-Smith had the tweet that broke a relatively long period of inactivity for the Blue Jays and Shi Davidi got the full details slightly later:
The Kansas native was listed as one of three players likely to contribute in the majors this year, likely as a back-end relief arm. After being selected basically at the end of the 2008 draft, Ybarra pitched well in Lansing and Dunedin before taking the step up to New Hampshire in 2014. As a reliever that always had high strikeout and walk rates, the decline in his K's in 2014 spelt trouble considering his walk-rate stayed fairly stable. There's a chance that 2014 was just a blip in the radar and Ybarra can go on to be a high strikeout reliever in the homer haven of Coors Field, but we'll just have to wait and see.
Aquino on the other hand (or the same hand since they're both lefties) is a former top ten prospect that has struggled to rise through the minor leagues as a starter. The 22-year-old was recently DFA'ed by the Rockies and was too attractive as a possible diamond in the rough for the Blue Jays to pass up. In 18 starts in 2014 (mainly all at high-A Modesto), Aquino pitched to a 5.13 ERA giving up a lot of hits. The ninth best prospect in the Rockies sytem going into 2013, Baseball America has soured on him saying:
...while he possesses a plus changeup and an average slider, his fastball command is poor, and he doesn’t use the pitch enough. BA’s report also indicated that Aquino is too emotional on the mound, often showing that emotion when disagreeing with umpires’ calls.
As Shi Davidi points out, a 40-man roster spot will need to be cleared for Aquino and he will likely try to land a bullpen role in Spring Training. The more likely outcome is that Aquino continues to start in the minor leagues until his options burn up.
#BlueJays will need to make room on 40 for Jayson Aquino. He has two options remaining, will be invited to camp.— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) February 4, 2015
Update: The Jays announced that Chris Colabello was designated for assignment to make room for Aquino. Colabello was picked up off waivers from the Twins back in December. He is a right-handed hitter, who played first base and right field.