Alex Anthopoulos, the Toronto Blue Jays GM, is determined to overhaul the team’s starting pitching, heading into the 2012 off season.
If the 35-year-old executive is adamant about changing Toronto’s rotation, there’s not that much to choose from, either through free agency or trade.
Here’s a look at some possibilities:
Zack Greinke, RP, Los Angeles Angels
The 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner was traded to the Angels from Milwaukee on July 27, and posted a 6-2 record with a 3.53 E.R.A. for his new club.
Greinke, at age 28, is entering the prime of his career, and is precisely the bona fide ace that Toronto needs to contend in the AL East. He has proven throughout his career that he can operate with little run support, something that should comfort the Blue Jays faltering offence.
Toronto would have to pay a major premium to have the Florida native come north of the border.
Dan Haren, RP, Los Angeles Angels
While Angels owner Arte Moreno has not been afraid to spend lavishly on his ball club, he is not expected to sign both Greinke and Haren, and it appears likely that Los Angeles would opt for the former.
Haren is a high-reward, high-risk pitcher, who finished 12-13 in 2012, and has a $15.5 million team option in 2013.
Los Angeles can buy him out for $3.5 million, something that will not perturb Moreno and co. going forward.
Shaun Marcum, LP, Milwaukee Brewers
Toronto traded Marcum in December 2010 for third baseman Brett Lawrie, and the pitcher has flourished in the National League.
According to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article, the Brewers and Marcum have prepared to part ways, with the the 30-year-old stating “it’s time to move on.”
Marcum recorded a 7-4 mark in 21 games with a 3.70 E.R.A. and is familiar with the city of Toronto, and most of the team’s core. Marcum has had a successful stint in Toronto once, and the Blue Jays ought to welcome him back for a second appearance.
Cliff Lee, LP, Philadelphia Phillies
Lee would be a quick fix to the team’s rotation, and a well-known name that would attract fan interest.
Philadelphia had a down year, and may need to accelerate a rebuilding process with the emergence of the Nationals and Braves.
The 34-year-old Lee would be an ideal candidate to unload and is looking to rebound from an off year as he notched a 6-9 mark, with a 3.16 E.R.A. Lee is owed $25 million next season, which may stave off cash-strapped teams.
Toronto would certainly have to give up a few prospects for the veteran, a small price to pay for proven greatness. However, if Anthopoulos is serious about drastically improving the team’s core, Lee would be a perfect acquisition.
Josh Johnson, RP, Miami Marlins
Nothing went right for the new-look Marlins in 2012, Johnson’s season included. His 8-14 record belied his actual performance, and he posted a 3.81 E.R.A.
The Marlins starter is owed $13.75 million next year and is two seasons removed from his second All-Star appearance. Johnson is only 28 years old and should be entering his physical prime.
Like Greinke, he has proven to be adept at pitching effectively with little run support. His potential is too great for the Blue Jays not to consider, and Anthopoulos ought to aggressively pursue the eight-year starter.
Matt Garza, RP, Chicago Cubs
Garza was heavily rumoured to be moved at the 2012 trade deadline, but stayed put in Chicago after the Cubs could not find a suitable deal.
Garza is coming off a down year, with a 5-7 record and 3.91 E.R.A. but at age 29 is entering his physical prime. Garza is familiar with the AL East as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays from 2008-10, and will acclimate well. Although his season ended in July with a right elbow injury, the Cubs have been adamant that Garza will be available for spring training, and if he’s available would be a welcome addition to the Blue Jays staff.