The Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Dodgers could line up for a potential trade, one that make sense for both teams.
The Toronto Blue Jays are not grabbing headlines like some would have hoped. Rather than swinging big trades, or signing big fish, the club releases an aging veteran, avoiding an awkward situation, and paving the way for young kids to audition to be part of the team’s core moving forward. It’s an odd time for Toronto. They are looking past 2019, with designs on competing later down the road. But, in order to get there, you can’t forget about what’s going on right in front of you. So far, the team has done a good job of having a foot in both the present and the future. But, this winter will really test them in that regard.
How does the team go about filling out their roster with an eye to the future? Well, they do so by targeting talented assets with years of control. We know how valuable this is to the Blue Jays. They want a guy who can stick around to help them compete when they are ready. Trading players who have run their course, or have peaked in value is how you do this. So, essentially, it is trading current value for future. The trick is in finding those who have the latter, but won’t take so long to get there. That is why some targets have to be for the shorter term.
It is that thinking that led me to the Los Angeles Dodgers. More specifically, it was a post at Fangraphs that really got me thinking about a possible trade matchup. Before we dive right into it, I want to explain that these speculation posts can be difficult. The writer risks looking like a click bait artist. So, in order to write one, the logic has to be sound and the results have to make sense. That is why I feel confident in the following discussion.
At Fangraphs, Jay Jaffe wrote that the Dodgers have pitching depth (which we know the Blue Jays desperately need) and outfield depth (which I feel Toronto desperately needs- we can’t all be happy with Teoscar Hernandez taking everyday reps, can we?). So, in my estimation, this makes the Dodgers a rather interesting trade partner. It is not often you find a team who could be willing to part with everything you need.
It is even rarer to find a team that needs what you have extra of. For example, we know that the Blue Jays are likely to trade Russell Martin this winter. With Danny Jansen looking like he’s the everyday catcher, it doesn’t make sense to keep the aging Martin around, as much as we love him. Instead, it makes sense to continue to shed the older players. Well, it just so happens that LA is looking for catching help. Jaffe lists catcher as one of the areas of need. This could be the point at which the clubs start a rather interesting dialogue.
The Dodgers very well could be interested in bringing Martin back to LA, providing Toronto eats an agreeable amount of his contract. And, with the release of Troy Tulowitzki, we know they aren’t afraid to spend to open playing time for the youngsters. It would certainly be possible for them to do so to find Russell Martin a playoff team with whom he can compete. It would continue their acts of respect toward players as well as help themselves out.
Some might say, ‘why would LA want an aging veteran who hit for a poor average last season’. Well, firstly, don’t discount the veteran presence of Martin. Secondly, the fear of him not getting everyday playing time, and the deal not getting off the ground because of it, might be minimized by the fact that the Dodgers have Will Smith and Keibert Ruiz they could utilize in an increased role. A cheap version of Martin and a talented youngster certainly could be an appealing option for them.
As for what the Dodgers would give up, as mentioned by Jaffe, they could look to shed several intriguing pieces. Consider the following screenshot from the Jaffe Fangraphs post:
If we look at this list and we start with the obvious need for pitching, the Blue Jays could look to Alex Wood, who will make slightly less than Jaime Garcia did in 2018. Wood is sure to produce better than Garcia did and very well could be used to start, or as part of some sort of “opener” strategy. The only drawback is that Toronto would be getting one year of team control on him, which might not be to their liking. If they’re going to eat Martin’s salary, they may prefer someone like Stripling, who is under team control through 2022, which lines up with when they’ll compete again. Projections for both of these players are based on limited roles, which they would likely exceed in Toronto, assuming health.
If we look to the list of outfielders, which I still maintain Toronto should be looking to add (is Billy McKinney for real?), we see some interesting names. I would be over the moon if Yasiel Puig played in Toronto. But, since his contract doesn’t exactly fit with the Blue Jays’ MO, we’ll assume he is off the table. Cody Bellinger is certainly an appealing option, but it is unlikely that Toronto can pry him from the warm, sunny grips of LA. Instead, who might be realistic is Chris Taylor or Joc Pederson.
These would be attractive to Toronto, given their years of control and the fact that they’re, you know, pretty good at playing baseball. Let’s say that one of these two is the target, why would LA agree to deal either of them? Well, they would be getting Russell Martin, who is a still an everyday catcher (please remember the expectations for that position) at a discounted rate. If Toronto is going to ask for pitching AND an outfielder, they are going to have to do a bit more than eat money, even though eating salary allows them to ask for more.
This is where an idea came up from JFtC writer, Roy W. He suggested Wood and Pederson for Martin and Aaron Sanchez.
Before you lose your mind, let’s consider that Sanchez has been injured and only shown flashes of his potential. How long will Toronto wait on the Scott Boras client to consistently live up to that? At this point, there is a serious return of the ‘Aaron Sanchez, bullpen or starter?’ conversation, so maybe the time to deal him is now. GM, Ross Atkins certainly has been vocal about the possibility. The swingman role in LA is something they use often could very well suit Sanchez nicely. Or, as Roy is quick to point out, the LA bullpen needs some help. Maybe a return to California could be a good thing for Sanchez.
When looking at possible trade scenarios, we can speculate and try to find possible matchups to entertain ourselves while we wait for the real people to do the real things. There is likely so much more that goes into this kind of thing than all of the above. That is why they do what they do, and get paid what they get paid, and I write from my couch and have a day job. However, on the surface, there looks to be a rather tidy matchup here between the Dodgers and Blue Jays.
Russell Martin, with, or without, Aaron Sanchez could go to LA and the Blue Jays could find themselves with one or two controllable assets for now and in the future.
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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.