Inbox: Will the Blue Jays trade Wells?
Beat reporter Jordan Bastian answers fans' questions
Do you believe that trade rumor that has Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells going to the Cubs for Milton Bradley has any legs? If so, do you believe it would be a good move for the Blue Jays, even if they had to eat a significant portion of Wells' salary?
-- Jamie C., Barrie, Ontario
The more this potential swap is broken down, the less sense it makes for both sides. As for the validity of the initial report, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos declined comment -- his policy when it comes to rumors. A recent Chicago Tribune report, citing an unnamed Cubs source, claimed there is no truth to the rumor.
It is no secret that the Cubs are looking to trade Bradley this offseason, but dealing him for Wells hardly makes sense for Chicago. Even if Toronto agrees to foot the bill for part of the $107 million Wells is owed over the next five seasons, Chicago would be acquiring another untradeable contract. The Cubs are already down to pay Alfonso Soriano $18 million annually through 2014.
Financially, the deal might be tempting for the Jays. Bradley is scheduled to make $21 million over the next two years, so he would only represent a short-term solution. On the field, though, Toronto would suddenly be short a center fielder. In the clubhouse, the Jays would also be adding someone with a long, well-documented history of issues.
Another reason it wouldn't seem to make sense for the Jays on the surface is the philosophy Anthopoulos has reiterated since taking over as GM on Oct. 3. Anthopoulos has stressed the importance of building an organization that has high-quality employees on the field and behind the scenes. Given Bradley's history, he does not seem to fit that description.
There is also the recent news that Wells is scheduled to undergo surgery next week to repair cartilage damage in his left wrist. That injury may help explain Wells' disappointing offensive production in 2009, and he is expected to be fully recovered from the operation before Spring Training, but it seems highly unlikely a team would agree to a trade after such a development.
Could you tell me some more about Zach Stewart -- the third player acquired from the Reds in the Scott Rolen trade? How has he performed in the Minors and is he close to being big-league ready?
-- Jason K., Whitby, Ontario
Stewart, along with third baseman Edwin Encarnacion and reliever Josh Roenicke, was acquired from Cincinnati in exchange for Rolen on July 31. The 23-year-old right-hander was selected by the Reds in the third round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft and has spent the majority of his professional career as a relief pitcher.
The Blue Jays are considering converting Stewart into a starter and he could be in a position to debut in the Majors some time in 2010 or 2011. Stewart logged 105 innings in the Minors last year and would likely see his workload increase to between 130-140 innings next season. Over two years, he has posted a 1.70 ERA with 129 strikeouts and 46 walks over 138 innings.
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Stewart, who was integral in convincing Toronto to complete a trade aimed at meeting Rolen's wish to play in the Midwest, features a fastball that can hit around 93-94 mph with a little sinking action. The right-hander also throws a slider, but he needs to work on becoming more consistent with the pitch. Stewart also has a promising changeup.
For all the knocks on former Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi this year, I think he made a good trade when Rolen was dealt. Two Major League-caliber arms and a third baseman with a lot of upside. My question is which of the two Encarnacions is closer to the real deal: the player who hit 26 homers in 2008 or the one who struggled so much last season?
-- Matthew S., Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
Encarnacion struggled with a left wrist injury throughout last season and then had a rough time adjusting to American League pitching after joining the Jays. As for the first issue, Encarnacion underwent surgery on his hand on Oct. 30 and he is expected to be fully recovered before the spring. As for the latter problem, he hit .294 with seven homers and 18 RBIs over his final 23 games. The Jays hope that late showing at the plate, along with the wrist procedure, bode well for 2010.
I heard that Brad Arnsberg is no longer the Blue Jays' pitching coach and signed on to be the Astros' pitching coach. Two questions: 1) Why would the Jays let him leave? 2) Who do the Jays have in mind for his former role?
-- Kurtis D., Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
There were indications that Arnsberg was not entirely happy with his situation in Toronto and a great opportunity came up with Houston. The Jays allowed the Astros to talk to Arnsberg, who is from Texas and is good friends with new Houston manager Brad Mills. Arnsberg jumped at the chance to join Mills' staff and Toronto named former bullpen coach Bruce Walton the new pitching coach.
Do the Blue Jays have any plans of expanding their scouting overseas to the Pacific Rim?
-- Dean F., Wolseley, Saskatchewan
After Anthopoulos took over as GM, he dismissed Rob Ducey, who headed the club's scouting of the Pacific Rim. Anthopoulos has dedicated much of his time to upgrading the scouting and player development departments, but he wants to focus more on Latin America right now. After strengthening that area to his liking, Anthopoulos plans on expanding further internationally. For now, the rookie GM wants to avoid spreading his resources too thin.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.