According to a major league source, the Blue Jays have been aiming high in the sort of prospect return that they’ve sought in exchange for left-handed reliever Scott Downs, in whom a number of clubs are believed to be interested. The source said that Toronto has been asking for one of the top two or three prospects in the farm systems of interested clubs.
In the case of the Red Sox, that would be consistent with a suggestion by Peter Gammons on WEEI earlier this month that the Jays asked for shortstop Jose Iglesias in exchange for Downs.
With Hideki Okajima (3-3, 5.81) enmeshed in his worst year as a Red Sox, Boston’s need for a middle reliever (especially a left-handed one) is apparent. The 34-year-old Downs (4-5, 2.41) — whose 2.29 ERA since the start of the 2007 season is the third best among southpaws with at least 100 innings pitched over that span, trailing only Arthur Rhodes (2.10) and Billy Wagner (2.24) — represents an obvious solution to that need.
The Jays can aim high on Downs in part because he likely will be a Type A free agent following this season, meaning that he could net two draft picks should he reject an arbitration offer and sign elsewhere in free agency, just as was the case with the Sox and Wagner a year ago. Even so, to date, the Sox and other clubs have balked at parting with a top prospect for a middle reliever, leading the source to conclude that any deal involving Downs seems unlikely “until just before the deadline if at all.”
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