As the Toronto Blue Jays approach the MLB Trade Deadline, they should avoid sending prospects to the Tampa Bay Rays for pitching help
The Toronto Blue Jays need pitching help to bolster their playoff run. The Tampa Bay Rays have pitching help available to help bolster their future. With Matt Moore and Jake Odorizzi as names that could be moved during this Trade Deadline period, it would only be natural for folks to draw a connection between the two teams.
Either Moore or Odorizzi would great additions to the Blue Jays’ rotation, for sure. Moore is 5-7 on the season with a 4.33 ERA. He’s striking out nearly 20% of batters, while walking 7%. He might not be that much of an attractive option if you take into account his 44% flyball rate. It isn’t even balanced out by an acceptable groundball rate. He’s seeing 36.9% GB. One could imagine that he could benefit from Toronto’s great defense, if only he looked to be a guy who took advantage of that sort of thing.
Moore features a nearly 93 mph fastball that is his only pitch of positive value, according to Fangraphs. All of this might not paint him out to be such an attractive target. But, his contract situation certainly has appeal. At 27, he has 3 more years of options remaining after his $5M 2016 season, thanks to the ever creative financial workings of the Rays management. The possibility of team control for a pitcher that has has success in the AL East is certainly appealing.
For his part, Odorizzi is also an interesting possibility. He’s having a similarly unspectacular season according to his 4-5 record and 4.39 ERA. He’s striking out 22.7% and walking 7.6%. His 1.27 WHIP is within the range of acceptable. Perhaps, a move to a team that could better support his efforts would help his win-loss record. Like Moore, his groundball rate (34.3%) and flyball rate (43.4%) make him a less than ideal candidate for the Blue Jays.
The 26 yr old Odorizzi is a much better financial investment than Moore. He is not eligible for free agency until 2020. That kind of team control is going to add more to the asking price of a pitcher who has cut his teeth in the AL East. He has an effective fastball with a good slider that are the highlights of his offerings. Again, he would be an acceptable addition to the rotation for now and in the future.
But, the shining star that the Rays have to offer, potentially, is Chris Archer. Now, he’s an interesting story since he is one of the best young pitchers in baseball, but is having a season that defies that description. Heading into action on Wednesday, he was sitting on a not so sexy record of 4-13 and a 4.68 ERA. He’s striking out 26.5% and walking almost 10%. His groundball (44.1%) and flyball (35.5%) rates are better suited to Toronto than the other two, but are still not ideal. He’s having a down year, but this is the kind of guy you look long and hard at when you’re talking about improving your rotation.
At 27 yrs old, he does not have the history of injuries that the other two do. That makes his contract look even better. He’s making just $2.9M in 2016 and will see his salary increase in each of the next 3 seasons to $7.7M in 2019. Then, he has 2 team options on his deal for $9M and $11M respectively. At that point, he’ll be 32 and you have to think that the team will have had his best years at a fraction of what they would cost on the open market. As well, while the club is paying him very little compared to the going rate for pitching, they’ll benefit from his wonderful, crowd pleasing personality and his charity work. Not only is he a good pitcher, buy he’s a good person; the kind of character you want in a clubhouse.
But, this is where things get complicated. Let’s say that the Blue Jays were going to target Moore or Odorizzi. Pitching help, even if it is “less than ace” quality will still cost a team. We have to expect that the Blue Jays will have to give up one of their prized prospects in a deal. That can be digestible if it leads to a postseason appearance. After all, Alex Anthopoulos taught is that prospects have value, not just in performance, but what they can bring in and how that impacts post-season chances. So, we can accept prospect talent leaving.
But, the issue becomes watching that prospect talent grow up within your division. Hypothetically speaking, do the Blue Jays want to watch Sean Reid-Foley, Jon Harris or Conner Greene become major leaguers right in front of their eyes? Do they want to have to actually face them within their set 18 games per season? Folks like to make a big deal about trading within your division. They say that it will cost you more. That seems silly. If the Rays are going to trade Archer, they will do so for the best possible return, regardless of which team it is. If the Blue Jays offer a return to their liking, they’ll pull the trigger.
The Rays may not wish to face Archer (or the other two) for the length of their time in Toronto. But, their focus has always been on netting themselves high end talent to control. The Blue Jays are built to win right now. So, trading for a starter like Archer is the name of the game. But, doing so means that you give up a prospect (or two) that you have to then compete against. This makes a deal tougher to accept. Instead, the Blue Jays can better stomach a deal to a team they don’t see so much.
When they traded Jeff Hoffman to Colorado, it came with less of a sting because, for most Blue Jays fans, it was like they traded him off into the void, never really to be seen again. Imagine how painful it would be if Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud were playing in the AL East. At the time of that deal, the Blue Jays were “going for it”. They gave up prospects for a starter. Trading within your division means that you could be regretting the move for years to come. For that reason, the Blue Jays should stay away from dealing with the Tampa Bay Rays.
*Featured Image Credit: Keith Allison 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.