Kevin Slowey: A Fit In Toronto?

The Blue Jays appear to be interested in Kevin Slowey and he makes a certain amount of sense for the Jays, who don't have established starters at the back of their rotation. But acquiring Slowey would mean Jo-Jo Reyes, Jesse Litsch, Marc Rzepczynski, Kyle Drabek, Zach Stewart, Brad Mills and Scott Richmond compete for a single rotation spot. That possibility may not appeal to Blue Jays executives, since the front office appears to like its current options.

GM Alex Anthopoulos recently told's Shi Davidi that Litsch looked "very, very good" while pitching against the Braves in his most recent exhibition start. Litsch, who is coming back form elbow and hip injuries, reminded the GM of another soft-tossing right-hander.

“The one thing I’ve always said is when Jesse’s been healthy, he’s been very productive," Anthopoulos told Davidi. "He’s not Shaun Marcum, they’re not the same style, but he certainly has a chance for the results to be similar in terms of win totals and innings pitched."


Like Marcum and Litsch, Slowey (pictured) averages less than 90 mph on his fastball and has never appeared in an All-Star game or collected a Cy Young vote. Despite his modest fastball, he was deceptively effective last year, when he posted a 4.45 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 in 28 starts (155 2/3 innings) for the Twins. In fact, Slowey tied Phil Hughes, Trevor Cahill and James Shields with 2.2 WAR last year, ranking 36th among AL starters.

Every starting pitcher in baseball who logged at least 100 innings last year posted a higher ground ball rate than Slowey, so he doesn't appear to be a natural fit for the homer-friendly Rogers Centre. However, Marcum and Brandon Morrow both succeeded in 2010, even though both pitchers induced more fly balls than ground balls. That should provide some hope that Slowey and his 28.3% ground ball rate could survive in Toronto.

Slowey's relatively cheap ($2.7MM salary) and he's under team control through 2013, but acquiring him could prevent top-rated prospect Kyle Drabek from continuing to develop in the major leagues. Drabek, who tops Baseball America's list of Blue Jays prospects, pitched well in a three start cameo last fall and the 23-year-old may be ready for the majors. The same goes for #5 prospect Zach Stewart and Reyes, a favorite of Anthopoulos' who is a trade candidate now that he's out of options. 

There's more to the Blue Jays' rotation battle than WAR or any other stat. The team presumably wants to determine which arms can thrive in the AL East as it prepares for what Anthopoulos says will be an extended period of contention. The Blue Jays could get creative – we shouldn't put that past them given the trades they've made in the last year – and acquire Slowey without blocking their top young arms. He's a potential upgrade for the Blue Jays, but he's not a fit for their ballpark and it appears that acquiring him would limit the Blue Jays' ability to expose their prospects to big league hitters in 2011.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.

68 Responses to Kevin Slowey: A Fit In Toronto? Leave a Reply

  1. j6takish 4 years ago

    Someone will need him at the trade deadline and will overpay. Thats really the only reason Toronto would be calling about him. Kevin Slowey is a microcosm of the Twins pitching philosophy, throw lots of strikes and hope it gets hit right at someone.

    • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

      they won’t overpay when he’s given up 30 HRs in the first half in toronto

      • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

        HR park factor 2010

        target field 0.641

        rogers centre 1.358

        slowey’s FB%: 50% (career 48%)

        • $1519287 4 years ago

          Those numbers say it all.

          – BNS

          • MinnesotaTwins 4 years ago

            As a Twins fan recognizing we could really use a trade to dump one of these starters, please stop posting these stats that all but prove this trade won’t happen, thank you.

  2. $1519287 4 years ago

    As an aside, I find it unlikely that the Blue Jays were able to trade Mike Napoli, Vernon Wells, Alex Gonzalez and Brett Wallace away without any leaks… only to deal for Slowey a week after everyone knows about it.

  3. iains 4 years ago

    Poor Litsch.. no respect… After he came back from the minors having retooled, he was throwing a 4 seam fastball topping out at 94 MPH

    • i love litsch, he knows he doesn’t have the best fastball but always works hard to throw the best pitch he can regardless.

  4. grownice 4 years ago

    Slowey would only make sense, IF they wanted Drabek to head down to the minors for another year which seems unlikely at this point, so im saying not a fit at all at this point.

    • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

      I thought the same thing. Add Stewart and Mils to that same arguement. And unless Rza and Litsch have lingering health issues I would also say they make just as good of an option as well. Slowey was really a product of his ballpark in 2010. Doesn’t mean he isn’t a useful pitcher but just not one you would think one would bring in when you have other internal options.

      • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

        Well said…. Me, personally I’m rooting for rzep to earn his spot, I love his stuff …i think drabek needs to start pitching to MLB hitters.. But it would be hard to send litsch down over drabek… I could see them start with litsch and rzep and then call up drabek if anyone gets hurt or struggles…

        If no one does, you can sell high on either litsch, rzep or Cecil and call up drabek halfway through the year

        • i think cecil is a keeper, he pitches amazing in the AL east and proves he can do it. i’d be willing to part with litsch and rzep if either of them have good season.

          • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

            I think some of what cecil did vs the AL east was a bit of luck. . we’ll see this year if he can sustain some of that success vs the big boys.

  5. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    I’m curious to where the rumors started … I wonder if AA was spotted at the b game he pitched and scouts assumed he was watching slowey…

    With rzep, litsch, drabek, Stewart, all options for the 4,5 spot I find it odd to be out looking for a middle to back end of the rotation starter..

    • iains 4 years ago

      First report was just of Jays scouts taping at a game. Probably highly overblown.

    • Wesley 4 years ago

      There were reports that the Jays had 3 scouts at the B game watching Slowey

    • $1519287 4 years ago

      There are lots of players the Jays could potentially have been watching… but I would guess they have at least some interest in Slowey.

      – BNS

      • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

        Exactly, jays could be looking to move a reliever and were just checking out some prospects…

        Like you said, no one even caught wind of the wells trade,he moves like a ninja.

  6. pastlives 4 years ago

    answer: no, because then snider can’t take him deep every AB

  7. I think the Yankees would make more sense than the Blue Jays.

  8. Wesley 4 years ago

    The only way I see this happening is if they are planning to flip one of their established starters. Maybe something like Cecil prospects for Rasmus. That way Slowey can provide depth and allow Drabek and Stewart get experience in AAA

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      Wouldn’t Stl just target slowey directly then??

      • He’s saying the Jays keep Slowey and trade Cecil to St. Louis. The problems with that are a) Rasmus is more valuable than Cecil or Slowey, and the Cardinals think they can compete, and b) Slowey has been a better pitcher so far, so why would the Cardinals look to acquire Cecil from the Jays when they could get Slowey from the Twins or Jays, depending on who has him? For that matter, if Slowey is even available, then why is Brian Cashman saying there is no pitching available on the trade market? Slowey would be a better 4/5 starter than either Mitre or Nova.

  9. 2UGGLA2BINTO 4 years ago

    Do you think the twins would take Heartbreak Dotel?

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      I wish

    • i don’t think TOR can trade Dotel until like 2 months in to the season or something, no?

      • Tammy Rainey 4 years ago

        they can with his permission.

      • ya, you cannot sign and trade. The Jays could look to move Frasor (yeah) or Camp (boo).

        • iains 4 years ago

          There’s no rule against trading someone freshly signed to a contract… it’s just considered poor form.

          • It’s in the small print in every major leaguers contract. When negotiating, the team can ask for it to be removed. I’m pretty sure it was agreed upon by the owners and mlbpa as a standard contract practice.

        • Carlson?

  10. Tammy Rainey 4 years ago

    as to the OP:

    “he makes a certain amount of sense for the Jays”

    No, it really doesn’t. Not a bit. The front 4 are pretty much set, and then they have Zep, Reyes, Richmond, Drabek, Stewart, and Mills in some sort of order for ONE spot. True, none of those guys are gonna contend for the Cy this year, but you don’t go out and pay an extra $2 million for the marginal difference in Zep and Slowey (I actually would wager Zep would have a better year if both were in the same rotation all year)

    If they could get the Twins to take Dotel (just because the pen is overcrowded) and then flip Slowey in short order that would be fine – but to get him for their own rotation?


    Completely irrational.

    • Very much this. The Jays have a bunch of 4/5 starters, and there’s no reason for them to be looking to get another one, especially when they have several established guys in the front of their rotation and guys like Drabek who will need major league time in the near future. If anyone is going to be acquiring a starter, it’s the Yankees or Cardinals.

  11. coup 4 years ago

    I agree with Tammy and BD. Why? I don’t get the need for a Slowey on this team.

  12. morneau played in that b-game. maybe they were scouting him 😉

  13. Three way deal that popped into my head..

    MIN receives: OF Colby Rasmus from Cardinals and RP Jason Frasor from Blue Jays.

    STL receives: SP Kevin Slowey and OF Aaron Hicks from Twins and OF Juan Rivera from Blue Jays.

    TOR receives: DH/OF Jason Kubel from Twins and RP Mitchell Boggs from Cards.

    • j6takish 4 years ago

      Minnesota receives blue chip prospect while other teams get deadweight salary dumped on them, sounds like a win win scenario!

      • Guest 4 years ago

        Huh? Minnesota gives up blue chip prospect, a legit DH and a 4/5 starter to get Colby Rasmus. Or am I misreading this?

      • Minnesota gives up a blue chip prospect in Hicks, their DH (which would be an upgrade over Encarnacion in TOR), and a back-end starting pitcher (which STL needs)…What deadweight salary are you speaking of?

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      No chance cards make that deal

      • I can see why you would say that and I would maybe agree with your statement except you said “No chance.” There is always a chance that something happens in baseball.

    • Lucas Kschischang 4 years ago

      So how does that help the Jays?

      • Kubel is a huge upgrade over Encarnacion at DH.

        • hmmm, maybe, but not necessarily obvious. EE’s ceiling is probably higher, even if it requires the unlikely successful pushing through of the challenge called consistency.

    • theres nothing in this deal that would interest the jays in the slightest.

      kubel who played about 50 more games than EE last year and yet had possibly worse numbers, and young reliever.

      now they dont give up much either, but where’s the incentive to make them make this deal?? its like bodies shuffling for no reason

      • From 2008-2010, Kubel has clearly been a way better player than EE. I look at the 3-year span average because it shows consistency instead of a one year breakout.

        Kubel: 23 HRs/ 91 RBIs/ .274 BA/ 1.8 WAR
        EE: 20 HRs/ 53 RBIs/ .242 BA/ 0.7 WAR

        Kubel would rake in Toronto. This deal would give them a very solid DH in the middle of their lineup while really only giving up a reliever.

        • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

          No offense, but you are way way off

          AA would have absolutely no interest is a guy like Kubel. Is he an upgrade over EE ? Yes maybe you have a point. But the team isn’t competing this year so upgrading your DH position slightly doesn’t make a whole lot of sense does it?

        • A lot of EE’s value is lost on defense. His 1.8 WAR includes a -1.5 on defense at 3B, a position which (so help me god), he won’t be playing this year since he can’t hit the broadside of a barn from across the diamond.

          I completely agree (as usual) with LB45 here. Having said that, EE/Kubel would actually be a half decent platoon split. Kubel has a .341 wOBA against RHP last year.

          Doesn’t make a ton of sense from a financial standpoint either.

    • MinnesotaTwins 4 years ago

      Twins are very high on Hicks and wouldn’t even talk about him to bring in Cliff Lee last year, there is no way they trade him for an outfielder, which we don’t need and a reliever that if we wanted we could have signed this offseason, nice thought but not happening. Besides Slowey Hicks Kubel is worth double that.

      • The reason they didn’t send him for Cliff Lee is because HE WAS A RENTAL PLAYER. The Rnagers gave up Smoak for Lee and now they have neither. That is what the Twins didn’t want to happen to them.

        We don’t need outfield help right now? Have you seen Delmon or Cuddy’s outfield defense. Granted they both have pretty good arms their range and tracking of the ball are poor and Rasmus would be a huge upgrade.

        Oh and you are wrong when you said “a reliever that if we wanted we could have signed this offseason.” Frasor accepted arbitration this offseason which meant the Twins could not have signed him.

        You are overvaluing Slowey, Hicks, and Kubel if you think they could get double that.

    • I’m missing the part where AA rapes and pillages the other GM’s involved in this deal.

  14. Encarnacion's Parrot 4 years ago

    The Jays need a #5 starter like Grizzly Adams needs a beard. See what I did there?

  15. It seems to me that Slowey is really undervalued. He dealt with elbow issues last year and everyone says “he was a product of his home ballpark.” Maybe he couldn’t pitch to his full potential because he was dealing that elbow issue. Granted, he has dealt with 3 different arm injuries over the last 3 years, but he is still a talented, team controlled winning pitcher (career: 39-21).
    If you are a believer in WAR, he was on the same level as Phil Hughes, Trevor Cahill and James Shields last year.

    • I agree with you, but I laugh that you decided to give a fact that is already said in the thread above.

      Ben Nicholson-Smith: “In fact, Slowey tied Phil Hughes, Trevor Cahill and James Shields with 2.2 WAR last year, ranking 36th among AL starters.”

      Nicholas Lane: “If you are a believer in WAR, he was on the same level as Phil Hughes, Trevor Cahill and James Shields last year.”


      • I knew I had read it somewhere! …but it is a really good point that was overlooked.
        Just like there is “more than one way to skin a cat,” there is more than one way to win a ballgame. Slowey has a BB/9 rate (1.64) that we haven’t seen from a pitcher since former Twin Brad Radke took the mound (he had a career 1.63 BB/9). Not to mention, Slowey actually strikes out more batters than people give him credit for (6.86 K/9, which is right around or slightly above average).

  16. Problem is, he has 30% GB rate, he’s not gonna survive rogers centre

  17. Does anyone remember that his 48% fly ball rate includes the time he pitched in the HOMERDOME!! Its not like Target Field has always been there. He is a good pitcher, doubtful any of these deals happen!

    • Rogers Centre is the new Homerdome.

    • nick1538 4 years ago

      Exactly! He had a great season in 2008 (3.99 ERA, 12-11, 3.91 FIP, 3.0 WAR), and that was in the Metrodome. It is way too early to give up on a 26 year old pitcher that has proven he can win at the big league level.
      His GB% was awful last year, but he should be able to at least get it up over 30% (36.1% in 2008).

      Don’t trade him Bill Smith!

  18. I dont think they should get him unless they are sure that they want their starting 5 Romero, Morrow, Slowey, Cecil, and Litsch i know that sounds good but still i think you need K.Dray in the Show.

    • Encarnacion's Parrot 4 years ago

      Though the same size is very small, his numbers against the AL East aren’t very flattering. I’m more comfortable with a Morrow-Romero-Cecil-Drabek-Litsch/Rzep rotation.

      There’s no sense in trading for something you already have too.

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