According to Toronto Blue Jays GM, Ross Atkins, his club is involved in trade talks this winter and is open to moving several pieces.
The Toronto Blue Jays are an active team so far this offseason. The full extent of that activity has yet to be seen. We know that they’ve spent some money on Kendrys Morales and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. But, as with every offseason, so much more goes on behind closed doors. Wheeling and dealing is made up of more than that final deal. For every deal made, several fall through or never even get off the ground.
So, teams juggle many balls, as it were. And, for much of the offseason, the belief has been that the majority of the Blue Jays’ juggling has been taking place in the free agency circus. Much is hanging on the dramatic saga that is the Edwin Encarnacion “negotiations”. Of course, Jose Bautista occupies a little attention too. However the team improves, it is believed it would most likely be through free agency. And, rumors, offers and actual spending have led us to believe there is money to be spent.
But, there exists very real scenarios where the Blue Jays could attempt to go the trade route. At first glance, one would think that this is the more difficult way to go. The minor league system has a good many talented players in it, but they mostly reside in levels lower than MLB teams would like if they’re going to give up big league talent. That ‘major league ready’ talent is something the Blue Jays would appear to be lacking. One could argue that the likes of Rowdy Tellez, Sean Reid-Foley, Anthony Alford and others are rather significant talent, but the fact remains that they are years away from being ready for the big leagues. Tellez might be considered the closest in that regard, with a possible ETA of September 2017.
So, what remains is the option to trade from the current roster. That might seem counter intuitive when you’re looking at trying to repeat the previous year’s success. It also might fly in the face of trying to fill the several holes they currently have. Why create more holes to try and fill others? It wouldn’t seem like the first option to try.
Blue Jays GM, Ross Atkins, joined Bob McCown and Damien Cox on PTS Monday evening and suggested that that there is a possibility that could be how things play out. Now, before alarm bells start going off, he did not say that they are looking to trade pieces from the current core, but he was asked about the trade market and he responded with some interesting tidbits.
After hitting on Encarnacion and other topics, many of which resulted in comments we’d previously heard a lot, Atkins talked about sustaining winning and how his team looks to be better in a couple of years. He said, “…it [the club] will be much better a year from now than it was today. That is if we don’t trade 4-5 pieces of it away. And, there’s always a chance that we could.” This is an interesting comment given that he was responding to a question related to the farm system, but he spent most of his time talking about the club in general. Listening to Atkins, you got the sense that he wasn’t just talking about trading prospects, though that would make the most sense when looking at trading.
Teams in a position to trade impact players are not looking to take on other impact players with hefty contracts. So, trading from the big league roster would be limited to guys like Justin Smoak or Dalton Pompey (if you consider him on the current roster- and you should) or one of the young stud pitchers like Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman or Roberto Osuna. And, trading those arms away would create massive holes. So, let’s go with the notion that Atkins was referring to prospects.
With that in mind, the idea of trading 4-5 of them away seems rather silly also. I mean, if you have a system that really won’t yield big league talent for a couple years, taking from that only creates a bigger gap. Now, there is no guarantee that any of these kids pan out and, perhaps, we should be thinking of them as capital, rather than potential roster pieces. That certainly changes how you use them. After all, flags fly forever. Prospects are just that.
This is where it gets tricky. Fans want to see a big deal. We’re itching for it. When you’re in a position like the Blue Jays have been for the past two years, you expect a big name/ big impact player to come north. But, for many, having to part with a Vlad Guerrero Jr or a Conner Greene is too much to deal with. We know what we want, but we’re not sure we are comfortable paying for it. We want Brett Cecil, but he was over-payed by St Louis. We want to land Adam Eaton, but we want to keep these young, exciting names we keep hearing.
When asked to characterize the trade talks thus far, Atkins said: “This is the first time a as a general manager where I am at the head of that.” His experience has not allowed him to control the trade aspect of offseason work, so he kind of deferred to what he knew in that his experience tells him that things “feel like they normally do” at this time of year. And, one can imagine that it is a lot of ground laying going on so far. There is no need to rush trades in November, unless you have a team willing to give up a Josh Donaldson, then you pounce.
Atkins expects that that things will pick up at the upcoming Winter Meetings as far as deals being talked about more seriously, etc. Until then, and maybe even beyond, we have to continue to wait with baited breath for the next move to continue the success of the past couple seasons.
*Featured Image Credit: Arturo Pardavila III UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.