The Blue Jays are looking for top-of-rotation pitching with multiple years of team control. The Rockies are likely rebuilding. Might Germán Márquez be available?
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The Toronto Blue Jays need pitching – more specifically, one more top-of-rotation starter. Many options have been discussed. Sign Bauer or Paxton or Kluber as a free agent? Trade for Snell or Darvish or Castillo or Grey or Price? Tomoyuki Sugano? But – at least so far – none of these options have panned out.
Which brings me to Germán Márquez.
Marquez will play 2021 at age 26, but he already has 5 years of mlb experience. He is under team control for the next three years at $34 million, and has a 2024 team option for $16 million with a $2.5m buyout. So far in his MLB career, he has a 4.24 ERA and a 12.5 fWAR in 634 innings pitched. But hold on! (I hear you say). I thought the Blue Jays were looking for a ToR starter, not a #3? The thing about Marque’s stats is his home/away splits. At home, in the Coors Field launching pad, he has a career ERA of 5.10 but his ERA when not on a Rocky Mountain High is a much better 3.51. And if you focus on his last 3 years, that away ERA drops to a holy-cow-Batman 3.08. Germán is projected to earn ~4 fWAR in 2021 with an ERA around 4 … and that is pitching half his games at Coors.
So why would Colorado even consider moving him? Well, the Rockies are not expected to contend in 2021, or in the near future. Depth Charts projects them at 71 wins in 2021 in a 162-game season, so trading the present for the future would make good sense. And the Rockies’ farm system is ranked #28 out of 30 teams, so they badly need an injection of top-level prospect talent. With Trevor Story and Jon Gray becoming free agents in 2022, and Nolan Arenado having an opt-out, the chances of 2022 being a rebound year are not great. AP estimated that the Rockies lost $134 million in 2020, and with a 162 game season (and therefore full player salaries) but no fans in the seats, 2021 could be even worse. And the Montfort family – who own a controlling interest in the Rockies – are rich, but not crazy-rich.
So what would it take to get him? Difficult to say. One site sees Marquez as the 6th most valuable starting pitcher in the majors, with a value over $90 million. That is the equivalent of Martin + Jansen/Teo. Ouch! But it is possible that the Rockies are motivated sellers, and that the Jays could somewhat reduce the price by taking on one of Colorado’s under-water contracts. The Rockies need offense in general, and they are particularly weak at first base and at catcher.
They also need bullpen help, most notably a strong left-hander. So might a package of a top prospect like Groshans + some combination of Tellez, Kirk and Borucki be enough to get a conversation started? And the Rockies always need pitching – could they be tempted by some combination of Thornton/Kay/Hatch/Merryweather/Zeuch? Or (my favourite pipe dream) if the Jays were able to sign Realmuto, would a young, cheap, gold-glove finalist like Jansen be of interest to a team where managing their pitching staff is critical? So would something like Marque + Desmond for Groshans + Jansen + Tellez + Zeuch fly … and would the Jays do it if the Rockies would?
The bottom line
In theory, the Jays and Rockies line up beautifully as trade partners. The Jays need to trade some of the future for the present, while the Rocks should be trading present for future. Márquez would tick a lot of boxes for the Blue Jays. He would not come cheap, but he might well be worth it.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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A Jays fan since pre-Series, Jim’s biggest baseball regret is that he did not play hooky with his buddies on 7 Apr 77. But hearing “Fanfare For The Common Man” played from a rooftop on 24 Oct 92 helped him atone.