Goodbye Vernon Wells. Now that’s a major league baseball trade!
It’s a daring strike by Alex Anthopoulos. Mike Napoli is a veteran catcher who offers protection for the emerging, promising, yet completely unproven, J.P. Arencibia. Napoli can also play first base – which might be necessary if Adam Lind can’t adjust.
Principally, the move is a coup because the Jays are out from under Wells’ gargantuan contract.
If Anthopoulos is savvy, Jose Bautista will become the face of the Toronto franchise. Unloading Wells’ albatross of a deal should open space to sign Bautista, a player who seems capable of leadership off and on the field, to a medium term contract. I’m never expecting another 54 home-run season from Bautista, but he’ll provide steady power and stellar defense whether he’s in the outfield or third base.
Late last year, I wrote about the “hollowing out” of the Blue Jays. Allow me to re-assess in light of recent developments. The trading of Wells, a fine player and perhaps a likable chap, but a 32 year-old on a superstar’s contract without superstar performance, is a significant step forward. Further, the addition of Octavio Dotel and Jon Rauch means that the bullpen is reconstructed.
Boston is set to run away with the American League East. However, the Yankees are weaker; and so are the Tampa Rays.
Here’s hoping that Anthopoulos and Paul Beeston don’t resume their, ‘we’re in a development year’, blather in the few weeks prior to spring training. The Jays are maybe, just maybe, set to make a run for a playoff position this year.