Toronto Blue Jays GM, Ross Atkins, admits what his team needs and there may be a solution in Seattle
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The Toronto Blue Jays need help. Over the last few weeks, they’ve fallen in the standings and are on the outside of the playoff picture. This has led some people to wonder if the club should be sellers heading into the Trade Deadline. There are also those who say it is far too early to say that and this club is a trade or two away from getting right back in the race. For his part, GM, Ross Atkins, has made it clear what he thinks his squad needs, providing the opportunity for some Trade Deadline speculation.
TSN’s Scott Mitchell provided some talking points from the GM that make the club’s targets rather clear: “The opportunity to add to our bullpen, to complement our bullpen, is what we’re focused on right now…The bulk of that focus is on run prevention and how we can complement that pitching staff, thinking about defensive improvements as well, internally, potentially externally“. Mitchell points out that a defensive upgrade should also bring a lefty bat.
The need for bullpen help is very clear, but the third base situation is less so. The Blue Jays tried to use Cavan Biggio at the hot corner and it has resulted in a -3 OAA according to Statcast. With the results of that experiment, the club turned to Santiago Espinal who has put up 1 OAA, but is providing less than ideal production than the position traditionally comes with, as evidenced by his .692 OPS. The other factor in this equation is the performance of Rowdy Tellez, who would be a potent lefty bat if he could maintain any level of consistency. His OPS is worse than Espinal at .610.
So, what do the Blue Jays do? One option could be to look to the Seattle Mariners. Currently, they have Kyle Seager who has also put up 1 OAA so far in 2021, but offers a better bat than Espinal, this is particularly true when you consider he is a lefty bat. Right now, the 33 yr old Seager is hitting .217 with 13 HR, 42 RBI, an OPS of .701 and a wRC+ of 94. So, at first glance, he doesn’t sound like a guy the Blue Jays should rush to trade for. But, Seager is a better hitter than his current 2021 numbers. His career wRC+ mark is 111, so it is reasonable to expect a bit more from his bat. He’s not a Gold Glover or a potential batting champion, but he could have value to Toronto.
Seager is in the final guaranteed year of his deal with the Mariners. Currently, he has a $15M club option, but if he is traded, that becomes a player option. Would Toronto be OK with the risk that Seager can choose to become a free agent or not? The possibility that this could be a rental means the prospect cost would be more palatable for Toronto. If the player option is triggered, they have a third baseman for another year, providing more time for an internal option to present itself. That being said, the fact that the team would have no control over the player or the remainder of the contract makes this move perhaps beyond the comfort level of Atkins & the Blue Jays.
However, if an arm were to be packaged with Seager, the Blue Jays may feel better about taking on that risk. Perhaps, someone like Kendall Graveman could be available. The former Blue Jays draft pick is 30 yrs old and having himself a good season thus far. Primarily being used in an inning per outing, Graveman has put up a 1.31 ERA, a 3.36 FIP, a K% of nearly 27% to go with a BB% of 5.3%. He’s saved 5 games for the Mariners as well. Graveman features a fastball, slider, change combo with his heater sitting mid to upper 90’s.
Contractually speaking, Graveman would be considered a rental given that he will be a free agent next season. He’s making $1.25M and he could see another $1.5M if he finishes 40 games. Even if that were to be added, it is a reasonable cost for an effective bullpen arm. Considering the bullpen woes the Blue Jays have had, it is a cost that Atkins should not turn his nose up at.
This is the fun part of discussing trade possibilities: the figuring out of which pieces COULD go back and forth. Obviously, there is no way to know exactly what pieces would be involved in any trade until it happens, but Baseball Trade Values is a great site to for us Wanna Be GMs. Using that site, I was able to come up with a reasonable deal:
Looking at the values of each package, there is a potential deal to be made that wouldn’t cost Toronto an awful lot. Adam Kloffenstein and Samad Taylor are not likely to figure into the Blue Jays future plans in a significant way. And, when you weigh their value against the upgrade of Seager and Graveman, it could be a cost the Blue Jays may be willing to part with.
The other thing to consider is that this is not the kind of headline grabbing, 2015-esque deal that some might be praying for. But, it is the kind of deal that Atkins could very well consider. The cost, both in dollars and prospect value, are definitely manageable and the time commitment is fairly short, so they aren’t locked in to anything that interferes with their future plans. It just might be the kind of deal we can reasonably expect to see from the Blue Jays.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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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.