According to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi at Fox Sports.com, the Toronto Blue Jays have “mild interest” in Pittsburgh Pirates starting catcher Ryan Doumit. The Pirates have said they are not shopping Doumit, but have been listening to offers. The talks with Toronto haven’t reached a serious stage yet.
I wrote a few weeks ago about the idea of “selling low” on Doumit after his poor 2009 season in which he hit for a .250/.299/.414 line with ten homers in 280 at-bats. The Pirates have Tony Sanchez in the wings, possibly ready to be in the majors by 2011. They recently released Robinzon Diaz, but have Erik Kratz to backup Jason Jaramillo, who would be the starter if Doumit were to be traded. A trade of Doumit in the short term may hurt, but would be inevitable in the long term with Sanchez in the mix, and the Pirates shouldn’t pass a deal up if a good return comes along.
So what could Toronto offer? Travis Snider is coming off a down year in which he hit for a .241/.328/.419 line in 241 at-bats in the majors. Toronto has said Snider needs to win a job this season, although I don’t think that means they’d deal their top prospect from the 2009 season.
I’m a big fan of 23 year old left handed pitcher Brett Cecil. Cecil pitched 93.1 innings in the majors last year, with a 5.30 ERA and a 1.65 WHIP, but had good ratios with a 6.7 K/9, a 3.7 BB/9, and a decent 42.6 percent ground ball ratio, although he excelled in this area in the minors, with a career 60.6 percent ground ball ratio in the minors.
The Pirates have some strong negotiating ground. First of all, Doumit is under contract for the next two seasons at a very reasonable $8.65 M combined salary. Doumit also has two option years which amount to $15.5 M, which isn’t bad when you consider Toronto could put Doumit in the DH spot for those years in order to maximize his value (about the time their number two prospect, catcher J.P. Arencibia, would reach the majors). The market for catchers is very thin this off-season, which raises Doumit’s value, even coming off of a low year.
The free agent market provides aging veterans like Ivan Rodriguez and Bengie Molina. Kelly Shoppach was recently traded to the Tampa Bay Rays, leaving one less catcher on the trade market. Considering Doumit’s friendly salary, and the lack of catchers, is it possible that the Pirates could get Snider or Cecil in a deal for their starting catcher?
Keep in mind, the Pirates got Tim Alderson for two months and a horrible option year of Freddy Sanchez, and got Jeff Clement, Ronny Cedeno, and three promising pitching prospects in A-ball for the same length of service from Jack Wilson, and Ian Snell. They got Atlanta’s number four and seven prospects, plus Charlie Morton for Nate McLouth, who was also struggling, and under control for the same amount of time as Doumit. Imagine what they could get for two years of Doumit, with two additional years of control, in a down year for the catching market.