The Blue Jays continue to talk like they’ll be buyers at the Trade Deadline. Could they go shopping in Pittsburgh?
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The Toronto Blue Jays have fallen in the standings, but are giving indications that they will be buyers at the Trade Deadline. The obvious fallout of this is people like us get to have some fun figuring out where the club will go shopping and for what will they shop. I looked at whether Seattle has a lefty bat and an arm to sell and Jim Scott turned his attention to Colorado for a ‘one stop shopping trip‘. However, Pittsburgh could offer an interesting layer to this whole discussion.
Before we continue, it needs to be stated that all of this is pure speculation and we don’t have any inside information, which may annoy some readers. Often, people get tired of the speculation type pieces because there seem to be no limits and anyone can throw names and teams around to gain clicks. While clicks are nice, the ideas have to make sense and be based in logic, which is something JFtC is aware of and uses as the foundation for these pieces.
Moving on, because we have no insider info and only have what the team says in the media, the fun comes from trying to figure out logical scenarios for the team we love. This leads us to Pittsburgh. Clearly, the Pirates would be thrown into the “Sellers” category heading into the Trade Deadline. They’re 15 games out of the 2nd NL Wild Card spot and are 20 games under .500. So, what booty do they have that Toronto could look to pillage?
The obvious answer is Richard Rodriguez. The 31 year old closer has 9 saves (the club only has 25 wins) and an ERA of just 1.84. He’ll be dealt this summer and Toronto needs the bullpen help, so it would behoove them to seriously consider him as a target. The 31 yr old has a $1.7M salary with two more years of arbitration left, so he is the kind of ‘team control’ target the Blue Jays love. Mainly a fastball/slider righty, he does come with a 2021 FB% of 58.2%, which is a tad concerning in the AL East, but he’s the kind of strike out reliever the Blue Jays need. Though, Toronto may want to wait to see if the crackdown on sticky substances has any impact on the success Rodriguez has.
If you want to try and find a lefty bat to go with Rodriguez, an answer might be Adam Frazier. With an OPS of .850 and a wRC+ of 138, I can’t really blame folks for thinking that. However, one would think that any bat the Blue Jays acquire would need to be able to play third base. Frazier hasn’t played the hot corner at the big league level since 2017 and it was in 8 innings. He also played there in 2016 for a total of 18 innings. So, I might try and focus on another target.
Colin Moran is the guy I might try and pry from Pittsburgh. He’s played over 1900 innings at third, including 900+ in 2018 and 800+ in 2019. But, it isn’t all rosy. He put up -11 OAA and -13 OAA in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Now, in 2020 he put up 1 OAA, but only saw 35 innings there. So, you have to really want his bat to consider him a defensive option at third.
Moran has an OPS of .769 with a wRC+ of 114. He has some power and can put the bat on the ball. His bat is likely to be more consistent than say a Rowdy Tellez, but comes with less pop. So, he may not exactly be someone you rush to trade for, or someone you would be willing to give up a hefty package for. But, the Pirates are likely to trade aging players for younger talent in their efforts to rebuild. It should also be mentioned that Moran comes with the same two more years of control beyond 2021. If I’m the GM, I listen on Moran or Frazier, but would rather focus on Rodriguez and look for a lefty bat elsewhere.
Of course, the other layer to this discussion that makes it even more interesting is that Ben Cherington, GM of the Pirates, is quite familiar with the Blue Jays’ farm system. He knows what talent the club has available and the degree to which Toronto values said talent. So, a pirate-like haul is not likely to happen. With that in mind, I ran some possibilities through Baseball Trade Values simulator. Check it out:
According to the simulator, Pittsburgh is giving up too much, but could be convinced to take the deal. If Cherington feels strongly that Moran’s inclusion is too much, I would still be happy to make this deal for Rodriguez alone, assuming he can pitch to the same results after the witch hunt on pitchers has begun. Adam Kloffenstein is currently ranked as Toronto’s 9th best prospect and Eric Pardinho is ranked 14th. Rowdy Tellez is…Rowdy Tellez. For a high end closer, one who would go a long way to solving Toronto’s bullpen woes, this could very well be an acceptable price. Though, if you’re Pittsburgh, you simply hold out for as long as possible to get the highest possible return.
Again, all of this is speculation, but it is fun. It’s an interesting thought exercise to try and match up teams for trades. The Blue Jays have a clear need and the Pirates have at least one attractive piece. A rebuilding team would certainly do well with Toronto’s 9th and 14th prospect, so it could work…right?
*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.