Blue Jays interested in second baseman Beckham
White Sox keystoner could be part of deal that might include pitchers, prospects
CHICAGO -- The Blue Jays are in the market for a new second baseman, and one of their early targets appears to be Chicago's Gordon Beckham.
MLB.com has learned that the Blue Jays have interest in acquiring the White Sox second baseman, which dates back to last offseason, when the possibility of a trade was first explored. The interest has since been renewed with general manager Alex Anthopoulos intent on upgrading the position.
As per club policy, Toronto doesn't comment on potential transactions and has yet to issue any type of statement regarding its plans for the offseason -- besides admitting second base, catcher and starting pitching are areas of need. White Sox general manager Rick Hahn declined comment on the matter as well.
The Blue Jays and White Sox appear to be somewhat ideal trading partners this offseason. Chicago is coming off a 99-loss campaign and is looking to rebuild its organization, while the Blue Jays are hoping to upgrade in an attempt to get into the postseason.
Toronto has the majority of its core locked up for the next two years and has a limited window of opportunity to build itself into a World Series contender. Beckham is eligible for arbitration this offseason and remains under club control through the 2015 campaign.
It's also possible that the Blue Jays would look to expand any deal involving Beckham to also include a starting pitcher. Chicago's Hector Santiago and John Danks are known to be available, and the Blue Jays have a clear need to upgrade their current starting unit.
Danks is owed approximately $42 million over the next three seasons and is coming off a year in which he posted a 4.75 ERA in 22 starts. The numbers aren't necessarily impressive but he got stronger as the year went on after missing almost the entire 2012 season following shoulder surgery. Danks is a bit of a gamble but has a past track record of success and is close friends with Blue Jays left-hander Mark Buehrle.
Toronto is expected to have some financial flexibility this offseason to make the required upgrades to its roster. According to various reports, the Blue Jays could have upwards of $20 million to spend with a payroll that could potentially reach $150 million.
Beckham, who hit .267 with five homers and 24 RBIs in 2013, is known as one of the more adept defensive second basemen in the American League. He found a consistent approach at the plate that helped him bounce back from some offensive doldrums suffered since a breakout rookie campaign in 2009, but was beset by injuries. He was limited to 103 games due to the removal of a fractured left hamate bone, a strained ligament in his left wrist and a right quad strain that slowed him for the season's final six weeks.
There's a strong possibility that nothing short of an overwhelming offer would pry loose Beckham from the White Sox, as even in their current reshaping mode, the club hopes to contend in 2014. A trade involving Beckham could be revisited closer to the non-waiver Trade Deadline if the White Sox appear out of contention, with young players such as Marcus Semien and Micah Johnson rising quickly through the system at second base.
Semien, 23, hit .284 with 110 runs scored, 19 homers, 66 RBIs and a .401 on-base percentage over stops at Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte in '13, before posting a .261 average in 21 games with the White Sox. He has shown the ability to play all across the infield.
Johnson, 22, produced a Minor League-high 84 stolen bases during stints with Class A Kannapolis, Class A Advanced Winston-Salem and Birmingham, hitting .312 with 106 runs scored, 24 doubles, 15 triples a .373 on-base percentage and a .451 slugging percentage. Johnson could seriously challenge for a roster spot out of Spring Training and should be ready for full work in February after having successful surgery Tuesday to reposition a nerve in his right elbow. There was no permanent nerve damage found, and his ligament was normal.
Chicago's asking price is high for any type of package, and it's believed the organization is strongly interested in Blue Jays right-handers Aaron Sanchez or Marcus Stroman. Both of those pitchers are the prized assets of Toronto's Minor League organization and won't be easily pried loose, but it's possible the club will be open to potential deals considering its strong need to upgrade the roster.
Nothing appears imminent, but Hahn indicated during slugging first baseman Jose Abreu's introductory press conference on Tuesday that discussing the '14 roster around Halloween is more than a bit premature. More changes figure to be on the horizon.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. Gregor Chisholm contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.