Blue Jays acquire J.A. Happ, Lyon from Astros in 10-player deal
Ben Francisco, Francisco Cordero headed to Houston; Travis Snider recalled from AAA
In need of immediate help on the mound, Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos dipped into the farm system on Friday.
The Blue Jays addressed their pitching needs by acquiring left-hander J.A. Happ along with relief pitchers Brandon Lyon and David Carpenter from the Houston Astros in a 10-player swap.
Heading back to the Astros are outfielder Ben Francisco, right-handed reliever Francisco Cordero, minor-league pitchers Asher Wojciechowski, Joe Musgrove, David Rollins, catcher Carlos Perez and a player to be named later.
"This was a depth deal," Anthopoulos said during a conference call. "I think it looks like a greater deal because of the quantity of players but at the end of the day we gave up some guys in 'A' ball that we think have a chance to be all right and we got some much-needed depth that can help us for the current year and going forward.
"I don't think I'm saying anything crazy by acknowledging that these are not our top prospects and I don't think anyone would've expected us to include those guys. We need some depth going forward for the current year and beyond that … with the guys that are up here, our depth has really been attacked."
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow also liked the trade for his squad — which holds the worst record in the majors at 34-59 — in the middle of a rebuilding phase.
"This is a very good deal for us," Luhnow said. "Once again, we are adding depth to our minor-league system with quality young players. We really feel this will help us moving forward and are extremely excited about the players we've added to our organization."
Snider gets the call-up
Toronto also recalled outfielder Travis Snider — who torched the Pacific Coast League with a .335 average, 13 home runs and 56 RBIs in 56 games for the 51s — from AAA Las Vegas, who will report to the team to face the Boston Red Sox Friday night.
The Blue Jays, in need of a jolt and in the hunt for a wild-card berth, sit 3.5 games back of the Detroit Tigers for the final playoff spot heading into Friday's action with a 45-47 record.
"It shows that one we've made the commitment and addressed an area that's needed. It's depth to our overall pitching," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "What this means in the next 10, 11 days remains to be seen."
Anthopoulos revealed he's had his eye on the players heading to Toronto for some time and thinks Happ can blossom into a dangerous pitcher.
"We like Happ's ability to strike guys out," Anthopoulos said. "Obviously a guy like Brandon Lyon is having a solid year. He has been hurt in the past but Cordero obviously hasn't pitched as well as he's certainly capable of and we think swapping out Lyon with Cordero will help our bullpen for the current year.
"A guy like David Carpenter is someone we liked at the end of last year. I know he hasn't been up with the Astros very long and was sent back down but he's a guy with pretty good arm strength and has some upside."
Happ, 29, is 7-9 for the Astros this season with a 4.83 earned-run average in 18 starts. The lefty is in his sixth major league season and has a 32-33 career record with the Philadelphia Phillies and Houston.
"In talking with J. A. a couple of times today, it's a natural fit with where we are in the rotation," Farrell said. "We know we've got someone that made 18 starts this year and is a multi-year big-league starter."
The Peru, Ill. native should help solidify a starting rotation that has been decimated by injuries over the course of the season, losing pitchers Brandon Morrow, Jesse Litsch, Dustin McGowan, Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchison and reliever Luis Perez for all or parts of the season due to various ailments.
Lyon will be entering his second stint with the Blue Jays after beginning his career with the squad in 2000. At age 32, the righty is 0-2 with a 3.25 ERA this year and has 78 saves in 505 career games. He signed a three-year, $15 million US deal with Houston in 2009.
"Brandon's got a lot of experience in that back end," Farrell said. "It gives us a guy with some certainty about him."
Asked if he was done tinkering with his lineup via trades before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, Anthopoulos was non-committal.
"I really have no idea," he said frankly. "We don't have this expectation that we have to make a move.
"All we continue to do at all times is try to make the team better whenever we can. We continue to be active year-round and whenever we can make a trade to get better we will."
Toronto also acquired a bullpen pitcher with solid potential in Carpenter. At 27, he is only in his second major league season and has made 30 relief appearances for the Astros this year with an 0-2 record and 6.07 ERA. He posted a sparkling 2.93 ERA in his rookie year last season and will report to AAA.
In Francisco, the Astros get a utility outfielder who saw limited playing time with Toronto this year to the tune of a .240 batting average in 27 games. The 30-year-old is in his sixth major league season, spending time with the Cleveland Indians and Phillies prior to joining the Jays this year.
Cordero has recorded 329 career saves and sits 12th on the all-time list, but at age 37, he struggled to find his groove with the Jays and recorded a 5.77 ERA and a 3-5 record with Toronto this season.
"I just don't think he could ever get on track here, we couldn't get him on track," Anthopoulos said of Cordero. "I think he'll perform a lot better for the Astros with a fresh start.
"The one thing is this guy was an unbelievable teammate, he's a pro. You can't help but admire the way he went about it day in and day out. Even with just the struggles he had this year, the way he carried himself the way he handled himself he definitely was one of the most respected guys in our clubhouse so from that standpoint you're sad to lose that element that he brought."
Houston nabbed Toronto's first two compensation picks from the last two drafts in Musgrove (2011) and Wojciechowski (2010). The former had a 1.12 ERA with no walks and nine strikeouts in two appearances with Rookie level Bluefield this year, while Wojciechowski was 7-3 for Class A Dunedin with 76 strikeouts in 18 starts.
Rollins has a 10-1 career minor league record in 25 starts with an impressive 2.46 ERA, to go along with 104 strikeouts in 77 2/3 innings.
With the likes of Travis D'Arnaud waiting in the Blue Jays' ranks at the catcher position, Toronto could afford to part with Carlos Perez. The 21-year-old hit .269 in 70 games at Lansing this season with five homers and 40 RBIs.
To make room for Snider, the Jays transferred righty Robert Coello to the 60-day DL.
With files from The Associated Press & The Canadian Press