The Toronto Blue Jays have tried on multiple occasions to obtain Anthony Gose, so when the opportunity finally arose this week, they didn't have any problems blowing up their succession plans at first base to get the 19-year-old centre-fielder.
General manager Alex Anthopoulos parted with gilt-edged prospect Brett Wallace — the heir apparent to Lyle Overbay acquired as part of the Roy Halladay deal last November — to acquire Gose from Houston mere hours after the Astros picked him up Thursday from the Philadelphia Phillies in the Roy Oswalt deal.
Blue Jays at the deadline
With the rumour mill churning out the names of up to seven Toronto Blue Jays, Saturday's non-waiver trade deadline could rank among the busiest in the team's 34-year history.
Relief pitcher Scott Downs appears to be the most likely to leave, while fellow relievers Kevin Gregg and Jason Frasor, catcher John Buck and infielder-outfielder Jose Bautista also could have new addresses by 4 p.m. ET Saturday.
According to baseballreference.com, the Blue Jays have made 35 deals in the month of July.
Some of the more notable moves in that month are listed below:
2006: Toronto sends P Vinnie Chulk and 3B Shea Hillenbrand to San Francisco for RP Jeremy Accardo
2002: Blue Jays deal OF Raul Mondesi to the New York Yankees P Scott Wiggins
2000: Toronto sends SS Michael Young and P Darwin Cubillan to Texas for SP Esteban Loaiza
1997: Blue Jays ship P Paul Spoljaric and P Mike Timlin to Seattle for OF Jose Cruz Jr.
1995: Toronto trades P David Cone to the Yankees for P Jason Jarvis, P Mike Gordon and P Marty Janzen
1993: Blue Jays deal P Steve Karsay and player to be named to Oakland for OF Rickey Henderson
That the Blue Jays made a deal some 48 hours before Saturday's non-waiver trade deadline came as little surprise, but that Wallace was the player heading out the door was a shocker.
Throughout the season it's been a question of when, not if, Wallace replaces free-agent-to-be Overbay, and now he's gone for a player who islikely at least a couple of years away from reaching the majors.
1st base future in question
"This was a trade about Anthony Gose," Anthopoulos said on a conference call. "We've really liked this player quite a bit for quite some time, and knowing how difficult it is to get a premium position player like this with the defence and the speed, [those are] two things we do not have a lot of in this organization.
"With respect to first base going forward next year, those are things we have to address. … I really don't know how it's going to line up right now because there are other deals that can occur, other signings that can occur, other opportunities. But we certainly have plenty of time."
There are few options within the Blue Jays farm system, but some intriguing possibilities exist on the big-league roster.
Adam Lind played some first base in college, has been practising the position regularly for weeks now, and has logged eight innings at the position so far. Travis Snider, who is expected to rejoin the team for Friday's series opener against the Cleveland Indians, also played first base in high school but has been in the outfield ever since.
Moving one or the other would also help clear the team's logjam in the outfield, but Anthopoulos said such machinations were well down on his priority list right now.
"I don't think we have an answer for how well Adam would [do] if he played an extended period, we haven't seen him enough," said Anthopoulos, adding that with Snider, "we're open-minded but we haven't talked about that at all."
The Blue Jays still have several pieces in play as the deadline nears — led by coveted lefty reliever Scott Downs, catcher John Buck and right-handers Jason Frasor and Kevin Gregg — so there may yet to be another shoe to drop.
Gose a threat on the base path
Either way, Anthopoulos couldn't hide his glee at getting Gose, whom he said has some similarities to Tampa Bay Rays left-fielder Carl Crawford. If he's anywhere near that good this deal will be a great one for the Blue Jays.
In 103 games this season he is batting .263 for Clearwater, the Philadelphia Phillies affiliate in the Florida State League (A). A 6-1, 190-pound left-handed hitter, he's batting .263 for single-A Clearwater with 17 doubles, 11 triples, four home runs, 20 RBIs and 36 stolen bases. A second-round pick in 2008, he led all minor-league players with 76 stolen bases in 2009.
While some fans will immediately worry about the stats, Anthopoulos points out that he's faring well against players generally older than he is. Gose will join single-A Dunedin, Clearwater's rival.
"He's in a league that's really ahead of where he should be," said Anthopoulos. "You have to discount the numbers a little bit."
The Blue Jays first asked for Gose in the Halladay trade talks with the Phillies but ended up getting outfielder Michael Taylor instead, peddling him immediately to Oakland for Wallace. They were in talks with the Phillies about Gose again this week, but when they couldn't reach an agreement they engaged the Astros, who asked for Wallace.
The 23-year-old, described as ready for the majors right now by Anthopoulos, joins his fourth organization since being drafted in the first round by St. Louis in 2008. He's been involved in deals for Matt Holliday, Halladay and now Oswalt.
He was batting .301 with 24 doubles, 18 home runs and 61 RBIs for AAA Las Vegas, and Anthopoulos said the Blue Jays haven't soured on him over the course of the season.
"I would have made this exact same trade on the first day of spring training," he said. "They asked for Wallace. … It was something that took us quite a bit of time to wrap our heads around, but obviously we felt it was the right move for us."
And there may be more coming.
"A lot of teams are in trade mode right now," said Anthopoulos. "I think you owe it to yourself and your organization to get involved in as many things as you can, look under every stone to see what comes up."
Astros GM Ed Wade said Lance Berkman remains Houston's starting first baseman and he's "not anointing" Wallace as the future starter.
"We had a chance to go out and get a guy who's a really solid hitter, who has got a chance to be a really good big league player," Wade said. "But Lance is our first baseman."