The Toronto Blue Jays expressed interest in trading for infielder Brandon Wood as recently as this offseason, sources say.
And there is every reason to believe the Jays will check in on him again, after the Los Angeles Angels designated his contract for assignment earlier this week.
The Angels will likely trade Wood during the coming days, because his former status as one of the game’s elite prospects will make it virtually impossible for him to slip through waivers.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have interest, multiple sources say, and other teams are involved, as well.
Wood, 26, appears to be a good fit for a Toronto team that has seen its infield evolve since Opening Day. Second baseman Aaron Hill is day-to-day with an injured hamstring, and third baseman Edwin Encarnacion has moved to designated hitter in light of Juan Rivera’s struggles.
As a result, second and third are unsettled in the short term. Until Hill returns, those roles will belong to some combination of Jayson Nix, John McDonald and Chris Woodward.
Wood could play all four infield positions. He filled in at shortstop and first base for the Angels this year, but the majority of his big-league experience is at third.
Wood has batted just .168 over parts of five major-league seasons. But there is the tantalizing possibility that he will one day fulfill the promise that prompted Baseball America to rate him as the game’s third-best prospect in 2006. He averaged 25 home runs per season at Class AAA from 2007 through 2009.
The Blue Jays are seen as a team on the rise, and there would be less pressure for Wood in Toronto than with the win-now Angels. Toronto batting coach Dwayne Murphy is credited with helping Jose Bautista transform himself from a journeyman to 50-homer-hitting star. Perhaps he could do the same with Wood.
Toronto’s third baseman of the future is Brett Lawrie, the 21-year-old Canadian who is hitting around .400 at Class AAA but needs to improve defensively.
-- Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal