TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays are on the verge of completing their second trade under new general manager Alex Anthopoulos, acquiring pitcher Brandon Morrow from the Seattle Mariners for reliever Brandon League and a prospect.
League was in Seattle on Tuesday afternoon where he took a physical, and Morrow was bound for Dunedin, Fla., to take his examination later in the day.
Barring any setbacks, an announcement looked likely for Wednesday, one week after the Blue Jays dealt ace Roy Halladay to the Philadelphia Phillies in a four-team swap that landed the Mariners lefty Cliff Lee.
This trade isn’t nearly as big, but features an exchange of electric arms that have been inconsistent at the big-league level. The Mariners are also getting 20-year-old, single-A outfielder Yohermyn Chavez, according to multiple reports.
While cautioning that nothing was official, League admitted the move caught him off-guard.
“It was definitely surprising,” he said in an interview from Seattle. “I didn’t see it coming, I was talking with my agent, he didn’t see it coming. I guess it was a really quick thing that came up. The thing I’m going to miss are all the friends I came up with through the system over the past few years.”
League, 26, was a second-round pick in 2001 and was expected to eventually become the team’s closer. But while he has been productive in parts of six big-league seasons — particularly in 2008 when he posted a 2.18 ERA in 31 outings — he’s never been as dominant as his stuff suggests he should be.
The right-hander’s fastball can touch 98 m.p.h. with a nasty sink action when it’s on. Last year, he established career-highs with 67 appearances and 76 strikeouts in 74 2-3 innings, going 3-6 with a 4.58 ERA.
Morrow, 25, was the fifth overall pick in the 2006 draft and also hasn’t met expectations. He looked like a future closer in the making during a breakout 2008, when he was 3-4 with 10 saves and a 3.34 ERA in 45 games, but took a step backwards last season when he battled arm injuries.
Morrow was also bounced back and forth between the bullpen and rotation while going 2-4 with a 4.39 ERA in 26 games, 10 of them starts. He’d likely become a candidate to join the starting staff in Toronto, which is bare bones right now without Halladay.
If completed, the trade offers a fresh start for both pitchers.
“It’s a great organization,” League said of the Mariners. “I’ve heard nothing but great things. They’ve been making a lot of exciting moves, they’re trying to make a push, and I’m going to come in and try to do my part.”