Trade Analysis: Blue Jays Win Big

This year's trading deadline figures to be a rather unique one. There's distinct lack of teams willing to trade away their stars, and there are simply not many teams that consider themselves out of their respective races. With that being the case, it's reasonable to expect more deals involving the exchange of big league talent rather than prospects, like the three way deal we saw on Wednesday.

The Toronto Blue Jays, barring a massive collapse by the teams in the powerful AL East, are not a playoff team in 2011. But, who says the deadline is just for playoff contenders? The Blue Jays didn't play the role of seller but managed to pick up a potential long term piece for their club by dealing for Colby Rasmus. That's the type of move that deserves applause.

Make no mistake, Rasmus isn't without his flaws. He has major personality issues that either need to be dealt with or perhaps will be solved with a change of scenery. Either way it was clear to the Cardinals that it just wasn't going to work for him in St. Louis. But, like they did last year in landing Yunel Escobar, Toronto is buying low on an exceptionally talented and young player. Rasmus is the type of player that has the skills to be a dynamic perennial All-Star for many years to come.

In exchange for a high upside player like Rasmus, all parts of the deal considered, the Jays had to part with Zach Stewart, Marc Rzepczynski, Octavio Dotel, and Jason Frasor. They will also have to absorb Mark Teahen's over $7 million remaining on his contract through next season. Teahen was received in the first part of the deal, which brought Edwin Jackson to the Jays, who was then flipped to St. Louis in exchange for Rasmus, Trever Miller, Brian Tallet, and P.J. Walters.

The key pieces of the dealt ultimately are Rasmus, Edwin Jackson, and prospect Zach Stewart. The Blue Jays are high on Stewart, and deservedly so, so this move was by no means an easy to pill to swallow. By sending the 24-year-old right-hander to the White Sox in the Edwin Jackson part of the deal, Toronto gave up a potential second or third starter at the big league level.

Stewart has a lively fastball that reaches the mid 90s and he's shown an ability to miss bats in the minor leagues. He has good sinking action on his consistently 91-94 mph fastball and boasts a potential plus slider. So, in that regard you'd have to say Chicago also has to be pleased with what they received in exchange for the talented but inconsistent Jackson.

The Cardinals were in the most difficult position in this deal. It's easy to criticize them, but it was apparent that they were at the end of their rope with Rasmus. But, they also have to be keeping their fingers crossed that he doesn't return to the track toward stardom he appeared to be on in 2010. But, there's no doubt that they gave up an immensely talented player for a potentially electric, but frequently frustrating pitcher in Jackson. If Dave Duncan can work his magic, however, we may look back at this being a major victory for St. Louis. There's frontline potential in Jackson, but unlocking that talent has been a challenge for pitching coaches over the course of his young career.

There's a good possibility that this type of deal will become a trend in the next few days as we near the deadline. Teams are less willing to trade prospects than ever before, and we are more likely to see big leaguers moved as clubs look to make moves that will benefit them beyond the 2011 season. The days of clubs surrendering top prospects for half season rentals are not gone, but there will likely be fewer than usual.

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