The July trading frenzy continues to ramp up this week, and the latest move sent Chicago White Sox pitcher Edwin Jackson and utility man Mark Teahen to the Toronto Blue Jays for relief pitcher Jason Frasor and pitching prospect Zach Stewart.
Several media outlets are reporting that the move is a precursor to a larger deal, in which St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Colby Rasmus is expected to end up in Toronto, possibly within the next several hours.
Chicago general manager Kenny Williams hinted this week that he would consider "turning over the roster," and today's move is a possible indicator of things to come. The White Sox were also dealing from a position of strength, and with six full-time starters healthy for the first time all season, the move was a predictable one. Jackson, 27, has a 3.92 ERA in 121.2 innings this season, to go along with a solid 7.2 strikeouts per nine innings (K/9) ratio. He is likely ticketed for St. Louis, where he will join a Cardinals rotation seeking to return converted starter Kyle McClellan to the bullpen. Jackson is projected to be a Type-B free agent this off-season.
The White Sox also unloaded outfielder Mark Teahen, who is signed through the 2012 season. Through 118 at-bats this season, the 29-year old Teahen has posted a meager .203/.277/.306 triple-slash line and is still due roughly $7.2 million on his current contract. It is difficult to see him making much of a difference in Toronto's already-crowded outfield, and the more likely rationale behind his inclusion is that Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopolous agred to take Teahen as a means of expediting the deal.
In return, Chicago acquired 33-year old right-handed reliever Jason Frasor. Through 42.1 innings this season, Frasor has posted a 2.98 ERA with a 37/15 strikeout-to-walk (K/BB) ratio. He is particularly effective against right-handed hitters, holding them to a stingy .226 batting average in his 8-year big league career. The White Sox bullpen was a major achilles heel early in the season, but the emergence of Sergio Santos at closer has stabilized the situation and the Sox have recovered to post the third best bullpen ERA (3.33) in the American League. His contract includes a team option for 2012, though Chicago may elect to let him walk in free agency in order to receive a Type-B compensatory draft pick.
The long-term key to the deal might be 24-year old right-hander Zach Stewart. Originally a third round pick by Cincinnati in the 2008 MLB Draft, Stewart was ranked by Baseball America as the No.5 best prospect in the Blue Jays system prior to the 2011 season. He has posted average numbers in his second go-round at Double-A New Hampshire, compiling a 5-5 record and 4.20 ERA in 94.1 innings pitched to go along with a 74/27 K/BB ratio. Depending on the level of success in his next several starts and the status of the White Sox' rotation, Stewart could toe the rubber at U.S. Cellular Field as a September call-up.
The fantasy implications of this deal will not be clear until the Rasmus situation is finalized, but Jackson owners in mixed leagues should not see a drop-off in performance as he returns to the National League. If he is called up later this season, Stewart could be worth a look in deeper formats, and is worth strong consideration in keeper leagues.