The Toronto Blue Jays may not have plenty of high end pitching prospects, but they definitely have the pieces to pull off a blockbuster
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Everyone expects the Blue Jays to add experienced bullpen pieces at the upcoming trade deadline and I am sure the front office will deliver in this regard. Generally speaking these additions, if they are rental players, do not require top, or even mid tier pitching prospects. These types of deals will get done.
It is the larger deals, those where the Jays take this opportunity to add long term talent to the organization that could be a concern. Areas where they may look to add players capable of being a significant contributor to a playoff contender include the starting rotation, third base, corner outfielder or possibly designated hitter.
Acquiring these types of players requires giving up significant prospects and when teams talk prospects pitching is king. Unfortunately if the Jays are serious (and they are) about maintaining a long term playoff contender, they may not be able to trade away the pitching prospects required to get a deal of this magnitude done.
According to Baseball America’s pre-season rankings the Jays top three pitching prospects include Nate Pearson, Simeon Woods Richardson and Alek Manoah. Now that Manoah is in the big league rotation Adam Kloffenstein moves up to number three on the pitching list. After that are C.J. Van Eyk, Eric Pardino, Patrick Murphy, Nick Frasso, Trent Palmer, Joey Murray, Yosver Zulueta and Sem Robberse. While some of this second group may be intriguing potential starting pitchers, some are injured (Pardino and Zulueta) and others project more as bullpen pieces (Murphy, Murray).
If the Jays are going to build a prospect package good enough to entice a team to trade away a controllable all star caliber player without including Pearson or Woods Richardson, they are going to have to include one of their top infielders (Marin / Groshans / Martinez) plus one of their top catchers (Kirk / Moreno) and more than one of the second group of pitching prospects. This will significantly deplete the pitching depth in the system that will be required in the next few years.
Fortunately, there is a potential solution. The Jays currently have two flawed outfielders that would have trade value and can be replaced internally this year, and either through trade or free agency in the offseason if needed.
In Randal Grichuk they have an outfielder capable of playing centre field with great power but a proven inability to get on base consistently. By paying down his contract significantly the Jays should be able to receive a couple of mid level pitching prospects to help replenish the system. This should not be an issue for a big market team like the Jays, and they have recently proven that they are willing to use their financial advantages to help improve the team.
In Lourdes Gurriel Jr. the Jays have a very intriguing left fielder that still has lots of potential, but the Jays may not be able to afford to wait for that potential to shine through. He would be of interest to a team a year or two away from contention and would bring back a couple young pitching prospects to replace any traded away.
With Dickerson scheduled to return from injury soon, the Jays will still have four outfielders after trading either Gurriel or Grichuk with Johnathan Davis and Breyvic Valera ready to step in should an injury occur.
By taking this approach, the Jays may be able to significantly upgrade a position of need (rotation first and foremost but also third base or even the outfield itself) and replace the pitching prospects required to get such a deal done. We may even see an exciting three way trade to facilitate the process!
Post Script: If the front office cannot find a starting pitcher of significance to add to the rotation I would love for the Jays to acquire an elite controllable centre fielder, thus moving Springer to right and Hernandez to left. This would improve the offence and defence while putting less strain on Springers legs. Just who that player is I do not know, but it sure would be nice.
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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.