The staff of Jays From the Couch discusses what the Toronto Blue Jays’ Trade Deadline might look like
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The Toronto Blue Jays are set to buyers at this July 31st Trade Deadline. What that might look like is a fun thought exercise. Some think they should go for it this year and pull off some big trades. For example, our Jason MacDonald wrote that the splurge of 2015 didn’t cost all that much since we don’t miss any of the pieces Toronto traded. This idea prompted a great discussion behind the scenes at JFtC.
Doyle: Jason, reading your post got me thinking…I’ve been saying all along that this front office won’t pull a 2015 and ’empty the cupboards’ because they love their prospects too much, etc etc etc. But, your post has me wondering if it IS possible to pull off a 2015. The only wrinkle I see is that teams know more about future value now. And, Toronto’s system is very highly ranked so they may not be able to deal from the level of their system they’re comfortable with. Other teams may push for the pieces Atkins won’t part with. It’s an interesting thought.
Jason MacDonald: Yeah, I hear ya. It could be a situation like when the Jays got Teoscar Hernandez from Houston. I remember reading that because of the strength of the Houston system and other prospects blocking Teo, the Jays were able to get a better player than they otherwise would have. I think if they can pull off a deal without subtracting pitching prospects they rank highly they will do it. I’m sure there are guys that other teams value higher than the Jays do and they will be willing to part with them.
Karen Soutar: My two cents – last year they went for it without going all in, without parting with prospects that they will miss (in all likelihood). I’m thinking there is a “middle ground” between the 2020 deadline and the 2015 deadline. That middle ground is what I’m expecting to see in 2021.
Jim Scott: My thinking (and I added a post to your article) is that the time to trade the future for the present is when you are very close. The Jays are still flawed enough that, IMO, the time is not yet right to go “all in”. And I am uncomfortable with evaluating a decision by its outcome. An example I use is a coin flip. Fair coin, fair toss, no tricks. If it comes up heads, you give me $1. Tails, I give you $2. You agree, we flip, it comes up heads and you pay me $1. Was that a bad decision on your part?
I like Jason’s idea of targeting players who are blocked – like Teo was. So for example – Baltimore’s Paul Fry is having a strong season (if you look past his ERA). But Valdez is BAL’s closer, so Fry is only pitching in setup. Might that make him less expensive than if he were their closer? Or sometimes a block-er can be available instead of a block-ee. Like Willy Adames, who was blocking Wander Franco and Vidal Brujan. That said, if the Jays could get an elite long-term piece (like a Jose Ramirez, in my dream world. Or a Marquez) then I could absolutely see moving a Martin or Groshans-level prospect.
Steve Fek: Something to consider as a comparison…. Ronald Acuna tore his ACL and 5 DAYS LATER AA traded for Joc Pederson. For all intents and purposes the Jays bullpen suffered a string of injuries beginning in first week of MAY and it took nearly 2 months to add Adam Cimber. Some GMs are wired to make bold moves. Some (like Ross Atkins) are so focused on prospects they simply do not have the knack for big deals at major league level. Jim, not sure Valdez is long term closer in BAL – more a placeholder. But agree with Jason’s concept of looking at organizations with depth at a position.
So pleased to see Adames’ name brought up. It had long been speculated that once Franco was ready, Adames would shift to 2B or 3B. BUT when presented with opportunity to acquire J.P. Feyereisen (beast bullpen arm) and the other uber bullpen arm they let Adames go to Brewers.
Karen Soutar: Steve, one major difference between Atlanta and Acuna and the Jays bullpen is that it is now July – the time of year when teams that are “out of it” are willing to trade MLB players away. If Acuna’s injury had happened in May, would, could the Braves have traded for Pederson then? Not so sure.
Steve Fek: Sorry, Karen, that is a cop out. If Acuna was hurt in May, I would have bet my life savings AA would have immediately gone out and found a major league caliber replacement. Especially in light of the series of injuries Atlanta has had already. Bullpen arms are easier and (aside from closers) less expensive to acquire than bats. As my weekend article will detail, the Jays draft directly reflects the state of major league pitchers in the system. We witnessed the ‘depth’ of pitching during May & June. If this was 2023 I would probably be praising the restraint Atkins has demonstrated. But the window of opportunity has been lowered and now the heat of summer has it jammed in the frame so only allows a sliver of light in for 2021.
Karen Soutar: Agree to strongly disagree
Jim Scott: As another example of Jason’s thinking – Miami has a number of good young starting pitchers in the bigs right now, and a others in the minors. But their -0.3 fWAR from the catching position is 3rd worst in baseball in 2021. Might they be willing to trade one of their young studs (position of strength) for one of the Jays’ young catchers (position of strength)?
Steve Fek: I wish to revive my JFtC podcast Hot Take….if A’s are serious about making deep playoff run, they pay the ransom price for Marcus Semien. In case you were wondering what topic of next On Fek Circle will be.
Karen Soutar: And if the Jays are serious about the playoffs in 2021, they keep Marcus Semien.
Jim Scott: Steve and Karen – I really believe that the next 13 games (especially the 7 against Boston and the 3 against the Mets) will define the Jays’ deadline strategy. Personally, I hope that there is a clear direction – that they either go 9-4 or 4-9. It would be less satisfying if they went 6-7 and were 6-8 games out of the wild card with still a sorta kinda chance.
And Steve – if (and we all hope not) the Jays are selling Semien at the deadline, one option would be for them to trade him to the A’s (whose -0.1 fWAR from the SS position is 4th worst in baseball) BUT retain some of Marcus’ salary. In exchange, of course, for a better prospect / player haul. Could be a win-win (or “non-zero-sum game”, for the stat geeks out there!).
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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.