Toronto Snares Rasmus In Three-Team, 11-Player Deal

The Deal
Not long after noon Eastern Time, the White Sox and Blue Jays completed a two-for-two trade that served as a prelude to a larger, 11-player, three-team deal that also involved the Cardinals. When the dust settled a few hours later, righthander Edwin Jackson was a Cardinal, center fielder Colby Rasmus was a Blue Jay and 24-year-old righthander Zach Stewart was a White Sock. In the flurry of activity, four veteran relievers changed teams, as did two veteran position players and a pair of young pitchers who have not yet established themselves in the big leagues. St. Louis also stands to receive as many as three players to be named or cash considerations from Toronto. (Note: For ease of reading, we’re combining the White Sox-Blue Jays and Blue Jays-Cardinals trades into one file.)

To kick things off, the White Sox traded Jackson and third baseman Mark Teahen to the Blue Jays for Stewart, a promising command-oriented pitching prospect, and veteran righty reliever Jason Frasor, who chews up righthanded batters (.226/.301/.349 in 1,054 career confrontations) but shows no extreme platoon split. Chicago saves more than $8 million in future salary commitments in the transaction, most of the savings resulting from Teahen’s $5.5 million salary for 2012 coming off the books. His production, as measured by OPS+, has dropped precipitously in the last three years, falling from 94 in 2009 to 90 in 2010 to 60 so far this season. Remarkably, the 27-year-old Jackson has been traded four times previously, by the Dodgers, Rays, Tigers and Diamondbacks. Not even the magic touch of White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper could help him find the consistency necessary to perform like a steady No. 2 starter this season.

Coveting Rasmus, the Blue Jays packaged the newly-acquired Jackson with three others (plus as many as three more players to be named) to St. Louis for the 24-year-old center fielder who will qualify for arbitration for the first time this offseason. (Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos made a similar buy-low acquisition last July in the deal that netted shortstop Yunel Escobar from the Braves.) Rasmus has undeniable talent, but he clashed with Cardinals management by, allegedly, requesting a trade on multiple occasions and favoring the hitting advice offered by his father rather than St. Louis coaches. “He doesn’t listen to the Cardinal coaches much now, and that’s why he gets in these funks, in my opinion,” former manager Tony La Russa told MLB.com. “. . . But I actually feel concern for him, because he hears it from so many places, he’s got to be confused.” 

In addition to Jackson, St. Louis also received 37-year-old righty reliever Octavio Dotel, veteran center fielder Corey Patterson and 25-year-old lefthander Marc Rzepczynski, who has spent all year in Toronto’s bullpen but who has three pitches and could be moved to the rotation in the future. In addition to Rasmus, Toronto also received lefty relievers Trever Miller and Brian Tallet as well as 26-year-old righthander P.J. Walters, a pitcher with modest stuff who, ultimately, probably fits best in a long relief/spot starter role. The Cardinals take on approximately $3 million in salary for the remainder of the season—in addition to surrendering Rasmus’ future potential—so the value of the players to be named (or cash) from Toronto may not be negligible.

 
White Sox Acquire
Zach Stewart, rhp

Age: 24.

Born: Sept. 28, 1986 in Wichita Falls, Texas.

Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 205. Bats: R. Throws: R.

School: Texas Tech.

Career Transactions: Selected by Reds in third round of 2008 draft; signed June 8, 2008 … Traded by Reds with 3B Edwin Encarnacion and RHP Josh Roenicke to Blue Jays for 3B Scott Rolen, July 31, 2009.

Club (League) Class W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
New Hampshire (EL) AA 5 5 4.20 16 16 0 94.1 106 49 44 6 27 74 1.41
Toronto (AL) MLB 0 1 4.86 3 3 0 16.2 26 9 9 2 5 10 1.86

Stewart works quickly and throws four pitches for strikes, making him a future mid-rotation candidate for Chicago. His fastball features sinking and tailing action at 88-92 mph, while his quality low-80s slider functions as his No. 2 pitch. Stewart worked in a mid-80s changeup more frequently this season with New Hampshire, and he sells the change of pace with good arm speed. He also surprises opponents with a seldom-used curveball.

 
Jason Frasor, rhp

Age: 33. Remaining Commitment: Approximately $1.2 million ($3.5 million salary for 2011, plus $3.75 million club option for 2012).

Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

Club (League) YEAR W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Toronto (AL) 2011 2 1 2.98 44 0 0 42.1 38 15 14 4 15 37 1.25
3-Year Totals 12 8 3.08 174 0 15 163.2 142 62 56 12 58 158 1.22
 
Blue Jays Acquire
Colby Rasmus, cf

Age: 24. Bats: L. Remaining Commitment: $443,000 salary in 2012; under club control for 2012-14 seasons.

Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

Club (League) YEAR AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
St. Louis (NL) 2011 .246 94 338 61 83 14 6 11 40 45 77 5 .332 .420
3-Year Totals .259 385 1276 218 330 64 11 50 158 144 320 20 .334 .444
 
P.J. Walters, rhp

Age: 26.

Born: March 12, 1985 in Dothan, Ala.

Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 200. Bats: R. Throws: R.

School: South Alabama.

Career Transactions: Selected by Cardinals in 11th round of 2006 draft; signed June 19, 2006.

Club (League) Class W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Memphis (PCL) AAA 7 4 4.27 17 17 0 103.1 105 51 49 9 42 87 1.42
St. Louis (NL) MLB 0 0 9.00 4 0 0 4 3 4 4 1 2 3 1.25

Walters ranked 10th in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in ERA (4.27) at the time of the trade, though the Cardinals have used him mostly as a reliever in the big leagues. He notched 8.5 strikeouts and 3.5 walks per nine innings in 455 innings at the Triple-A level, spending parts of the past four seasons with Memphis. Walters pitches at 87-90 mph and favors his high-70s changeup as his second pitch, though he also mixes in a slider to work to his glove side. On his third optional assignment with Memphis this year, Walters probably will qualify for a fourth option year in 2012.

 
Trever Miller, lhp

Age: 38. Remaining Commitment: Approximately $667,000 ($2 million salary for 2011; eligible for free agency after the season).

Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

Club (League) YEAR W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
St. Louis (NL) 2011 0 1 4.02 39 0 1 15.2 19 7 7 1 10 9 1.85
3-Year Totals 4 3 3.12 166 0 1 95.1 80 35 33 8 37 77 1.23
 
Brian Tallet, lhp

Age: 33. Remaining Commitment: Approximately $250,000 ($750,000 salary for 2011; eligible for free agency after the season).

Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

Club (League) YEAR W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
St. Louis (NL) 2011 0 1 8.31 18 0 0 13 20 13 12 4 5 9 1.92
3-Year Totals 9 16 5.81 89 30 0 251 273 172 162 44 115 182 1.55
 
Mark Teahen, 3b

Age: 29. Bats: L. Remaining Commitment: Approximately $1.6 million ($4.75 million salary for 2011, plus $5.5 million for 2012).

Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

Club (League) YEAR AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
Chicago (AL) 2011 .203 51 118 11 24 3 0 3 11 12 28 0 .277 .305
3-Year Totals .262 266 858 111 225 50 3 19 84 74 207 11 .324 .394
 
Cardinals Acquire
Edwin Jackson, rhp

Age: 27. Remaining Commitment: Approximately $2.8 million ($8.35 million salary for 2011; eligible for free agency after the season).

Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

Club (League) YEAR W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Chicago (AL) 2011 7 7 3.92 19 19 0 121.2 134 55 53 8 39 97 1.42
3-Year Totals 30 28 4.01 84 84 0 545 548 259 243 56 187 439 1.35
 
Marc Rzepczynski, lhp

Age: 25.

Born: Aug. 29, 1985 in Yorba Linda, Calif.

Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 205. Bats: L. Throws: L.

School: UC Riverside.

Career Transactions: Selected by Blue Jays in fifth round of 2007 draft; signed June 16, 2007.

Club (League) Class W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Toronto (AL) MLB 2 3 2.97 43 0 0 39.1 28 16 13 2 15 33 1.09

Rzepczynski might be the prototype Dave Duncan acolyte. The long-time Cardinals pitching coach has a long history of success with sinkerball pitchers like Rzepczynski, who ranges from 87-91 mph with his two-seam fastball. His plus changeup resides in the low 80s, while his average, low-80s slider gives him a weapon to the other side of the plate. The Blue Jays have more lefthanded starter options than most clubs, e.g. Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil and Jo-Jo Reyes (prior to his outright assignment to the minors), so Rzepczynski has made just 23 starts for the club in three seasons. In that role he went 6-8, 4.35 with 114 strikeouts and a 1.47 WHIP in 124 innings.

 
Octavio Dotel, rhp

Age: 37. Remaining Commitment: Approximately $917,000 ($2.75 million salary for 2011, plus either $3.5 million club option or $750,000 buyout for 2012).

Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

Club (League) YEAR W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Toronto (AL) 2011 2 1 3.68 36 0 1 29.1 20 13 12 5 12 30 1.09
3-Year Totals 8 8 3.70 166 0 23 155.2 126 71 64 21 80 180 1.32
 
Corey Patterson, cf

Age: 31. Bats: L. Remaining Commitment: Approximately $300,000 ($900,000 salary for 2011; eligible for free agency after the season).

Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

Club (League) YEAR AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
Toronto (AL) 2011 .252 89 317 44 80 16 3 6 33 15 65 13 .287 .379
3-Year Totals .254 190 639 85 162 32 4 14 65 34 152 35 .292 .382

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