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Three Potential Blue Jay Trading Deadline Strategies

The Toronto Blue Jays have options heading into the Trade Deadline and JFtC presents three possibilities


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Now that the calendar has turned to July the attention of baseball fans turns to the July 31 trading deadline. This deadline represents the last opportunity for baseball teams to either add talent for a stretch drive or add prospects to rebuild or retool. For the sake of argument, and in light of the recent comments by the Jays front office, we will assume that the Jays will be looking to add talent for a run at the playoffs.

 

To start, we need some context. The Blue Jays are a young team, loaded with young high end players under team control for the next 3-4 years. Their minor league system is loaded with upper level talent, including a few players likely to be all star caliber major leaguers. The lower levels of the system also hold much promise.

 

The front office has indicated that they are building a sustainable long term winning team. I expect this means a team always in playoff contention and sometimes expected to contend for the World Series. After a few lean years in the win column, the jays finally have the MLB and MiLB talent to pull this off. Furthermore, the Blue Jays will have the financial muscle to take on payroll this summer (as well as this upcoming winter).

 

Given the above information and context, there are three strategies the Blue Jays could follow. I will outline them below and include a few potential targets for consideration. I will also speculate on the caliber of players likely to be demanded in such a situation.

 

Strategy A – First, Do No Harm

This is the strategy the Jays followed last year at the trade deadline. They added veterans on expiring contracts (mostly) without giving up any top prospects from the system. These trades added three starting pitchers in Ray, Walker and Stripling plus infielder Villar with the only player of real significance leaving the organization being pitching prospect Kendall Williams.

 

Following this strategy the Jays could solidify their bullpen with multiple pieces without harming the farm system. There will be many rental relievers available who can be had for a fringe prospect or two.

 

Starters available would include Jon Gray of the Rockies and Michael Pineda of the Twins. I would suggest a prospect rated in the 10-15 range on the depth chart plus another lottery ticket could land either of these guys.

 

Strategy B – Aquire Long Term Talent

This is the strategy the Jays will follow if the right opportunity arises. Here they will be looking for youngish controllable mid rotation or above starting pitchers or closer(s). The stars will have to align for a trade like this to come to fruition, but it is possible. The prospect capital will be difficult to part with, but the potential upside could be worth it.

 

In this scenario the Jays will be targeting the likes of the Twins Jose Berrios, the Rockies German Marquez and the Reds Luis Castillo or Sonny Gray. While none of the above are true ‘aces’ any of them would be perfectly fine starting game two in the playoffs. More importantly they can help the Jays GET TO the playoffs this year, and for a few years to come.

 

For any of the above, the cost will be enormous. Trading partners will be asking for a prospect package along the lines of stater Simeon Woods Richardson, plus one of catchers Kirk or Moreno, and one of infielders, Groshans or Martinez. This assumes that Pearson won’t be traded because he is hurt and Martin and Manoah are off limits. I doubt the Jays front office will be willing to pay such a high price.

 

Strategy C – All Star Rentals

This strategy falls somewhere between the first two. The players won’t be around long, but their impact should be significant. These trades likely won’t be made until just before the deadline as teams on both sides of the trade will wait as long as they can to see exactly where they stand in regards to buying and selling at the deadline.

 

Potential targets here include first baseball Freddie Freeman, shortstop Trevor Story and designated hitter Nelson Cruz. None are a perfect fit but each would help the offence for sure.

 

Notable is the lack of starting pitchers on the list as most all star caliber starters that are pending free agents are playing on teams currently in contention (bit if cause and effect here wouldn’t you say?).

 

In order to execute a trade such as this the Jays will have to trade a significant piece, but not a top prospect. Prospects likely to be traded in such a transaction of this caliber are guys rated 10-30 plus another long shot or two.

 

Another possibility, which no one outside of the Jays front office would have any knowledge of, is a franchise altering trade along the lines of the 2004 mid season trade where the Red Sox traded Nomar Garciaparra for multiple pieces that led to their first World Series championship since 1918. In this situation the Jays will be trading an all star caliber player they feel no longer fits in the organization. I don’t anticipate such a trade, but it is always fun to think about.

 

Given that the Jays are a young team with multiple years of contention ahead, the front office will not likely be ‘selling the farm’ to win it all this year. Rather I suspect they will follow Strategy A and trade a few mid level prospects for short term help, likely to solidify the bullpen. It says here that the 2022 trade deadline is when the front office decides to go ‘all in’ and pay the price it takes to get this team over the top and win its first World Series in a generation.

 

 

*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.

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JCMac

Jason C MacDonald has been a Blue Jays fan since the late 1980’s.  His lifelong passion for Baseball and the Blue Jays has recently led him to start writing at JFtC.  When not working at his day job or driving his two teenage sons to their sporting events Jason is usually reading, listening, watching or now writing about baseball.