In light of the recent signings of Abreu and Dunn, I came to consider another option for LF. Swapping Kelly Johnson and a prospect or perhaps two for Alex Rios makes increasing sense for both the Braves and Blue Jays.
First of all, I'm well aware that Rios signed a 7 year extension prior to last season but things have changed dramatically for the Blue Jays since last spring. When Rios, 28 in a week, signed, the Jays were hell bent on contending and were pushing the payroll beyond their ideal level. Injuries sunk the Jays hopes of contending in 08' and with the loss of Burnett, improvement of the Rays, additions of the Yankees, and the presence of the Red Sox, the Jays may be looking to retool at some point later in the year. Analysts such as Keith Law have speculated that they would look to move Halladay and/or Vernon Wells if they were to struggle in 09’. Realistically, Wells' contract isn't mobile in the current economic climate and the organization has been unwilling to unload the face of the franchise, Roy Halladay. While I’m sure in the event of a roster reconstruction the Jays would look to move Wells first, Rios may be the only one of the two that they could move to create financial flexibility. The have a couple of young corner outfield prospects in Lind and Snider who are either ready or near ready to take over starting roles. Their farm system is not particularly deep, though they have a few impact prospects. Bottom line, Rios is a player they could move to shore up other areas while not leaving a gaping hole in his place.
Rios' contract is worth $65M over the next 6 years but only $5.9M in 09'. Though the Blue Jays are unwilling to begin roster reconstruction at present time, if they are in 4th place in June, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the likes of Wells, Halladay, Rios, and B.J. Ryan made available. Kelly is the type of cheap, on-base oriented player the Jays covet and the Jays are rumored to have been interested in him in past years. The Jays also have a shortage of CF prospects and basestealers, making Gorkys a likely target if we were to engage in trade talks. While they wouldn’t be quite the player Kelly is, some combination of Infante and Prado would be serviceable at second base.
Maybe Rios is a player the Braves are targeting or just wishful thinking on my part. However, whether it be now or at midseason, Rios would be a great addition to our OF and the two organizations match up well in terms of needs. My point is, perhaps standing pat and not acquiring suspect players for the sake of immediate "help" is the better option. Rios is just an example of the type of player that could be available a few months down the road and surely there will be others we have not considered. Given the likelihood that more talented players could soon be available, I think the organization would be best served to pass on the likes of Nady and Swisher and make a strong run at a player who could really be a difference maker.