After the Blue Jays acquired Mike Aviles from the Red Sox for David Carpenter as the compensation for manager John Farrell, many expected this to be the end of days for Yunel Escobar in Toronto. Two weeks later, a shortstop has been dealt…and it's Aviles. Toronto sent Aviles along with Yan Gomes to the Indians in exchange for reliever Esmil Rogers.
I'm not really sure where Aviles fits in with Cleveland, due to the presence of Jason Kipnis at second base, Asdrubal Cabrera at short, and Lonnie Chisenhall at third. The only possible things I can think of would be a potential trade of Cabrera, acquiring Aviles just to spin him off to another team, or using him in a supersub role, playing a variety of positions to give Kipnis, Cabrera, and Chisenhall days off. That could be a smart move with Chisenhall's injury problems last year, but Aviles really doesn't hit enough to play third base on an every day basis.
Trading Cabrera could make sense with the dearth of good shortstops on the free agent market. He'll make $6.5 million in 2013 and $10 million in 2014, a good value for a three win shortstop that doesn't turn 27 for another week and a half. However, that would probably send the wrong message to a fanbase that has suffered for awhile and seen many of its top stars get dealt away for (essentially) a bag of magic beans over the last few seasons.
The 25-year old Gomes looked like an org guy during his time in the majors, htiting just .204 with a .631 OPS in 111 plate appearances. But for an Indians team that has struggled to find a good first baseman since Jim Thome left, he could be worth a shot. However, it's worth noting that the .937 OPS Gomes posted in AAA in 2012 came in Las Vegas, a notorious hitters park that can make even the most mediocre hitter look like a future star.
Rogers is the return for the Blue Jays, and he seems like a good enough bullpen piece for Toronto. He'll be entering his first of four arbitration sessions this offseason, and will likely be paid cheaply in 2013 due to his struggles in Colorado before the Indians acquired him. In his first full season as a reliever, Rogers struck out a batter per inning, but walked over six hitters per nine with the Rockies. After joining Cleveland, Rogers continued to strike out a batter per inning, but drastically dropped his walk rate to a much more palatable 2.04 batters per nine innings, resulting in his ERA falling to 3.06 in his 53 innings with Cleveland.
I can understand both sides of this trade. The Blue Jays had no need for three shortstops (with Adeiny Hechavarria joining Aviles and Escobar) on their 40-man roster, and one had to go. That's not to say that Escobar still won't be dealt, though…more interest could grow in him as the top options start falling off the market. Rogers could be a solid bullpen arm for the Blue Jays, and the cost was minimal. Essentially, the Blue Jays traded Carpenter for Rogers, who is a month younger and has more experience and success in the majors. I can't really argue with that.