The Winter Meetings hadn’t even officially kicked off and there had already been two trades, one gigantic one, and another which is a pretty decent sized one as well. I already wrote up the Adrian Gonzalez trade, but another one that came together pretty quickly on Sunday evening was the Brewers’ acquisition of Blue Jays’ starting pitcher Shaun Marcum in exchange for 2B prospect Brett Lawrie.
The Brewers were in pretty dire need of some starting pitching coming into this offseason. A few of their team starting pitcher numbers, from Baseball-Reference’s page for 2010:
- Quality Start % – 46% (14th in NL)
- Innings Pitched per Start – 5.4 IP (14th)
Throw in that they really only have Yovani Gallardo, Doug Davis, and Chris Narveson locked into their rotation for 2011, and it becomes very clear why they made this move. Marcum had a solid season last year, and should be a solid addition to their rotation in either the #2 or #3 slot.
Giving up Lawrie, widely considered the top prospect in their minor league system, was a tough spot, but he was actually a bit expendable. I reviewed him prior to last season, and he actually had a very good season in AA in 2010 (.285/.346/.451, 8 HR/63 RBI/30 SB). It remains to be seen whether or not he can remain at 2B long term (25 errors in 636 chances last season), or if he will need to move to the outfield. Regardless, the Brewers were fairly well set at those positions in the short term and potentially the long term as well.
Toronto Blue Jays
One of the things that the Blue Jays have in abundance remains quality starting pitching. Marcum was one of the starting pitchers who could have been expendable with the emergence of Brandon Morrow, Ricky Romero, and Brett Cecil last season. Throw in that they also still have Marc Rzepczynski (fresh off of his performance in the Arizona Fall League), top prospect Kyle Drabek, Jesse Litsch, and Dustin McGowan expected to provide starting pitching during the season as well. The organization has seemed to be missing high quality position players in the past couple of years, and were able to acquire a top level prospect for Marcum.
I think that long-term, Lawrie is unlikely to stay at 2B unless his fielding starts improving and quick. He seems destined to start the season at AAA at best for 2011, as he has not played above AA to this point.
Overall, I think this is one of those trades that really could work out well for both parties involved. The Brewers clearly needed a solid starting pitcher to slot in behind Yovani Gallardo, and the Blue Jays have quite an excess of it at the moment. While I think that the return might have been a bit stiff for the Brewers, they don’t necessarily have a place for Lawrie to play in 2012 when he would likely be ready for the Majors.
BLUE JAYS: A