Jays, Rolen both come away winners
GM nets good deal while granting veteran's trade request
OAKLAND -- Scott Rolen is heading closer to home, and that's exactly what the third baseman wanted. On Friday, the Blue Jays accommodated the veteran's request to be traded, sending him to the Reds in exchange for three players.
Word of the deal spread with only minutes to spare before Major League Baseball's 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline, and it came as a bit of a surprise. It was initially believed that the Blue Jays would only move Rolen or other players in the event that the club decided to first trade ace Roy Halladay.After it was clear that Halladay was not going to be dealt, Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi revealed that Rolen asked out of Toronto. Ricciardi said Rolen had a desire to leave due to "personal reasons." MLB.com learned that it was a family situation that led to Rolen's request. "He mentioned to me that he's got some personal things that he's dealing with," Ricciardi said. "[He asked] if we had it in our power to move him to a spot that would get him closer to his home, if we would take that into consideration. We did and we were able to turn it into a good trade. We weren't going to trade him just for the sake of trading him." Rolen, who is from Indiana, was sent to Cincinnati in exchange for third baseman Edwin Encarnacion and right-hander Josh Roenicke, as well as Minor League pitcher Zach Stewart. The Blue Jays optioned reliever Jeremy Accardo to Triple-A Las Vegas to vacate a spot in its bullpen for Roenicke, who will join Toronto, along with Encarnacion, on Saturday. The 34-year-old Rolen -- a seven time Gold Glove winner -- was hitting .320 with a .370 on-base percentage, eight homers and 43 RBIs in 88 games for the Blue Jays this season. Rolen is under contract for $11 million this season and $11 million in 2010. Toronto will pay the remaineder of Rolen's salary this season as part of the trade. Not only will Rolen be closer to home, but he'll be reunited with Reds general manager Walt Jocketty, who held the same role with the Cardinals during Rolen's time in St. Louis. After spending the first 12 years of his career with St. Louis and Philadelphia in the National League, Rolen was traded to Toronto in January 2008. Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said the team will undoubtedly miss having Rolen around. That being said, Gaston knew Rolen was probably satisfied with the deal. "Rolen's probably pretty happy today," Gaston said. "This guy's a class player. ... He's not a clubhouse lawyer -- he's not a leader in the clubhouse per se -- but he leads in the way he plays and the way he goes about his business, as far as preparing himself and playing the game every day." Considering the type of season Rolen has been piecing together, his value was never higher. Last year, he was limited to 115 games due to injuries, including a left shoulder issue that bothered him for much of the past four seasons. Late last year, Rolen altered his swing mechanics in order to reduce the stress on his surgically repaired shoulder. The changes helped Rolen revive his career and allowed the Jays to swing what the club believes was a good trade for the third baseman. "We accommodated him," Ricciardi said. "In doing so, we got a younger player at third base with a little bit more power and we got two really good arms that we've liked for a long time. We're very, very happy with the arms." Encarnacion, who hit .251 with 26 homers and 68 RBIs for the Reds last season, was batting .209 with five homers and 16 RBIs in 43 games for Cincinnati this year. Gaston said the 26-year-old Encarnacion will get some playing time at third base, along with Blue Jays utility man Jose Bautista. On Friday night, veteran infielder John McDonald started at third for Toronto. Roenicke, 26, moves into the Jays' bullpen after posting a 2.70 ERA in 11 games with the Reds this season. In four seasons in the Minor Leagues, the right-hander has gone 12-4 with a 2.89 ERA, compiling 192 strikeouts against 68 walks over 159 innings. Roenicke was a 10th round pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. Stewart was selected in the third round of the '08 Draft by the Reds, though Ricciardi noted that the Jays had him on their board at the time as well. Between stints with Class A Sarasota, Double-A Carolina and Triple-A Louisville this year, the 22-year-old righty has gone 4-1 with a 1.67 ERA over 23 games, including 14 starts. Asked if he would have made the deal even if Rolen had not requested a trade, Ricciardi said he wasn't sure. "I don't know," Ricciardi said. "I think if we were presented with this type of deal, it would've been something that we would've had to really really sit up and take notice of. We really like the arms we got. We like them a lot and we've liked them for a while. They're young, controllable arms that continue to add to what we have here."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.