Blue Jays Add Coats At Winter Meetings

The Deal
The Reds sent outfielder Buck Coats to the Blue Jays for righthander Justin James in one of the Winter Meetings’ lowest-profile trades. The Reds acquired Coats in trade on Aug. 30, after the Cubs designated him for assignment. Cincinnati parted with low Class A righthander Marcos Mateo to get Coats.

The Big Leaguers
No big leaguers were involved in this trade.

The Prospects
The Cubs tried for three years to convert Coats, 25, into a shortstop, but it wouldn’t take. The erstwhile outfielder, selected in the 18th round of the 2000 draft, committed 114 errors in 303 games at short from 2004 to 2006. Back in the outfield for the 2007 season, Coats hit well in Triple-A, batting .308/.366/.439 with 11 home runs and 20 stolen bases for Iowa and Louisville. A good athlete who runs well, Coats has the range and arm to capably play all three outfield spots. He has a sound lefthanded swing, makes reasonable contact, commands the strike zone and has some gap power.

James, 26, made it to Triple-A Syracuse for the first time in 2007 and went 3-3, 3.68 with 43-20 K-BB in 71 innings spent mostly as a reliever. A fifth-round pick from Missouri in 2003, James’ changeup is his best pitch, as his high-80s fastball and hard curveball rate as average or below. He’s struck out 352 minor league batters, while walking 126, in 435 minor league innings.

Quick Take
His versatility (he’s played seven positions as a pro) and modest offensive profile mark Coats as a strong candidate for the Blue Jays’ 25th roster spot in 2008.

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