Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopolous was apparently at the Phillies-Orioles game yesterday. and left the game once Phillies starter Joe Blanton left the game. Naturally, this has fans going crazy that the Phillies and Blue Jays could be talking about Philadelphia’s fifth starter. But does a trade for Blanton make sense for the Blue Jays?
Toronto’s rotation right now is very young. The two veterans of the bunch, Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow, are each just 27. The rest of Toronto’s rotation will likely be filled with pitchers even younger than those two, like Kyle Drabek, Henderson Alvarez, and Brett Cecil. Thus, I can see why acquiring a veteran like Blanton would make sense for the team. I don’t think Blanton is necessarily a good fit, though. The 31 year-old threw just 41 1/3 innings last season, and his high fWAR season over the last four seasons is just 2.1. He hasn’t had an ERA under 4.00 with the Phillies in the NL East, and a switch to the much tougher AL East likely wouldn’t help him at all.
Even if the Blue Jays were able to acquire Blanton, the return for the Phillies likely wouldn’t be very steep. Phillies fans are mentioning guys like Anthony Gose, Travis d’Arnaud, and Yunel Escobar possibly coming back from the Jays in exchange for Blanton. Blanton is overpaid at $10.5 million, but a large market club with a behemoth ownership group (which the Blue Jays most definitely are) wouldn’t exactly be begging the Phillies to pick up 80% of his contract.
If the Blue Jays did acquire Blanton, the return wouldn’t be a top 100 prospect like Gose or d’Arnaud, nor would it be a potential franchise cornerstone in Escobar. Even if the deal was expanded to include a player like Domonic Brown, I think the only one of those three that the Phillies might be able to pry away from the Blue Jays would be Gose, an inferior player to Brown, but who also doesn’t seem like he needs a change of scenery like Brown does.
If Toronto does trade for Joe Blanton, it would necessarily be the worst thing they could do. But if they do pick up the portly righty, don’t expect Anthopolous to overpay by any sense of the word. If Phillies fans are expecting a top 100 prospect for a guy who’s accrued 4.8 fWAR in parts of four seasons in the City of Brotherly Love…well, they should really lower their expectations right now.