The Blue Jays traded Lind to the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday for right-handed pitcher Marco Estrada, ending the first baseman/designated hitter's decade-long run in Toronto. Had they not found a trade partner, the Blue Jays planned to decline Lind's US$7.5-million option for 2015 but instead got themselves another potential starter.
"This deal's about reconfiguring the roster," general manager Alex Anthopoulos said on a conference call. "It gives us a lot of flexibility moving forward and also allows us to reallocate some dollars to some other areas of need."
With Lind gone, Edwin Encarnacion figures to be the Blue Jays' regular first baseman, freeing up the club to rotate players at the designated-hitter spot. Justin Smoak, claimed off waivers from the Seattle Mariners earlier in the week, may provide some depth in both areas as well.
Lind, a third-round pick in 2004, has been in the majors on a consistent basis since 2007. The 31-year-old lefty hit .273 with 146 home runs and 519 RBIs over his career with the Blue Jays and won a Silver Slugger award in 2009.
"He hit in the middle of our lineup for a long time," Anthopoulos said. "There's no question the offence and the bat will be missed, but we have some other areas of need on the club and sometimes you have to make a tough choice and a tough decision."
Ultimately that decision was to part ways with Lind, who has become a part-time player. In 2014, he hit .354 with a .942 OPS against right-handers but was just .061 and .223 against left-handers.
Lind fills an area of need for the Brewers, who have been weak at first base since losing Prince Fielder to free agency before the 2012 season.
"Adam brings us a productive left-handed bat at a position of need with the ability to hit in the middle of the order," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said in a statement.
In Estrada, the Blue Jays get a 31-year-old pitcher who could start in the bullpen and provide some insurance for the starting rotation. He made $3,365,500 last season, is eligible for salary arbitration and can become a free agent after the 2015 World Series.
In seven seasons with the Washington Nationals and Brewers, Estrada has a 23-26 record with a 4.23 earned-run average. In 39 appearances in 2014, which included 18 starts, the Sonora, Mexico, native went 7-6 with a 4.36 ERA.
"Marco performed well for us with his versatility to start or pitch out of the bullpen," Melvin said.
Anthopoulos hopes that versatility continues in Toronto, where the rotation already appears set. The Blue Jays also picked up the $6.7-million contract option on left-hander J.A. Happ, who will likely return to the rotation along with R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, Marcus Stroman and Drew Hutchison.
Aaron Sanchez, the organization's top prospect who spent some time in the bullpen in 2014, will be stretched out to start in spring training as well, Anthopoulos said.
The presence of Sanchez and the addition of Estrada gives the Blue Jays a wealth of pitching depth even after the team declined the options of right-handers Dustin McGowan, Brandon Morrow and Sergio Santos. Anthopoulos acknowledged he has work to do this off-season to re-make the bullpen.
That's not the only place the Blue Jays must focus on. The team extended a $15.3-million qualifying offer to Melky Cabrera, and though Anthopoulos said he'd like to keep the veteran outfielder he did not sound optimistic about that possibility.
"It takes two parties to come to an agreement," Anthopoulos said. "All you can do is negotiate and try to get deals done and make offers and counter-offers. But at some point if you're far apart, you're far apart and there's only so much that can be done."
By extending the qualifying offer, the Blue Jays ensure they would receive draft-pick compensation if Cabrera signs elsewhere.
As expected, the Blue Jays declined a $3.65-million option on Smoak, but the former blue-chip prospect remains under team control. They also picked up catcher Josh Thole's $1.75-million option and reinstated third baseman Brett Lawrie of Langley, B.C., infielder Maicer Izturis, right-hander Chad Jenkins and outfielder Andy Dirks from the 60-day disabled list and added them to the 40-man roster.
Freeing up some of the $7.5 million that Lind would have made if he remained on the roster should give the Blue Jays a bit more money to work with.
"It does give us some options and some flexibility as we navigate through the off-season," Anthopoulos said. "We have some ideas in free agency, we have some ideas in trades. Being flexible's going to be pretty important for us."
With files from The Associated Press.
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