The Toronto Blue Jays added Brett Lawrie to their stockpile of young players big on potential after acquiring the Canadian prospect from the Milwaukee Brewers for right-handed pitcher Shaun Marcum.
Lawrie, a 20-year-old second baseman from Langley, B.C., has been on the club's wish list since the Brewers made him the 16th overall draft pick in the 2006 draft, one spot ahead of the Blue Jays, who chose first baseman David Cooper.
Lawrie has the combination of raw power and speed that general manager Alex Anthopoulos covets. He batted .285 with eight homers, 36 doubles, 16 triples and 30 stolen bases for double-A Huntsville, Ala., in 2010, just his second professional season.
But the price was a steep one.
Marcum stepped into the No. 1 starter's void created by the trade of ace Roy Halladay and went 13-8 with a 3.64 ERA. He made just $850,000 US this past season and is two seasons away from free agency.
The deal creates an opening in a pitching staff that includes Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow and Brett Cecil, and that has led to speculation about a corresponding move.
The Blue Jays have been linked to interest in Kansas City Royals ace Zack Greinke, and getting the former Cy Young Award winner will likely require a package of prospects.
Missed 2009 season
Marcum gives the Brewers a badly needed complement to ace Yovani Gallardo in their rotation. He turns 29 next week and missed the entire 2009 season after having Tommy John surgery.
Lawrie is unlikely to be big-league ready given his age and lack of experience, but he's always been considered an advanced talent.
Scouts have long admired Lawrie's tenacity and fearlessness, two traits that helped him get named to Canada's Olympic team in 2008 and World Baseball Classic squad in '09 despite his age.
His presence suggests that second baseman Aaron Hill may eventually be moved to third base to make room for Lawrie.
The teams also swung a deal Friday, when the Blue Jays picked up reliever Carlos Villanueva for a player to be named.
Besides filling out the starting rotation, the Blue Jays also have holes to plug in the bullpen, both infield corners and behind the plate.
They've been linked to interest in free agents Carlos Pena and Russell Martin of Chelsea, Que., among other players.