Early reports had Toronto landing Cincinnati’s best prospect, first baseman Yonder Alonso.
Not so, though it looks like the Jays did pretty well in dealing their all-star, oft-injured third baseman.
While unloading an $11 million/year salary, Toronto fetched third baseman Edwin Encarnacion, who has never reached anything close to his potential, along with young reliever Josh Roenicke and top pitching prospect Zach Stewart.
Stewart seems to be the gem here, as detailed by Tyler Hissey of Most Valuable Network:
“According to Reds minor league expert Doug Gray, the one prospect who it really hurts to lose as far as Cincy is concerned is Stewart. Gray, who ranked him as the eighth-best prospect in the organization in the offseason, said that he would not trade the 22-year-old right-hander for Rolen straight up.
Stewart has shot up three levels already, excelling at each stop along the way from High-A Sarasota to Triple-A Louisville. He began the spring in the Florida State League, where he posted a 2.13 ERA, 2.77 FIP and rates of 6.80 K/9, 1.70 BB/9 and 0.21 HR/9 in 37.0 innings pitched over seven starts. The Reds then promoted him to Double-A Chattanooga, and he continued to shine. He improved his strikeout rate (7.54 K) while registering a 1.46 ERA and 2.77 FIP in 37.0 innings pitched over seven starts. Cincinnati moved him to the bullpen upon a promotion to limit his innings upon a promotion to the International League. Although he was a reliever during an inconsistent career at Texas Tech, however, his future is clearly a starter. Like any other pitcher, his stuff plays up in the late innings and he was effective in that role in nine appearances for the Bats, striking out 16 in 12.1 innings pitched.
Along with the impressive numbers, the scouting reports on Stewart are excellent as well. He has good command over a heavy, sinking fastball that sits in the 92-to-96 MPH range. The pitch is a real worm burner, helping him to generate a ton of ground ball outs. He also mixes in a plus slider, which he can consistently locate, and an average-but-improving change-up.
The kid is real good. Indeed, according to Gray, he would be the numbers two prospect in the Cincinnati farm system today had he not switched organizations. Giving up that many years of his services will sting down the road.”
Great news for Jays fans if Stewart can keep improving. Gray, today, wrote that he wouldn’t be surprised to see the kid win a Cy Young in Toronto. I’ve never seen him pitch, but my reaction is “wow.”
I don’t like how JP Ricciardi handled the Roy Halladay situation, opening his mouth far too often and mostly just pissing off fans and other general managers.
This, though, is an excellent deal. Rolen simply cost too much for a team not in the race, while promising young prospects are always great to add.
Hissey’s full trade rundown can be found here.