The Toronto Blue Jays are rumoured to have reached out to the Marlins about their starters, but the price to deal might be rather high
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The Toronto Blue Jays will be examining every possibility when looking to improve on their 91 win 2021 season. There will be the obvious moves that we all discuss ad nauseam and the deals that no one thought of to sift through. That’s what separates those who talk about the Blue Jays and those who actually run the club. In their search for pitching, it is rumoured that GM, Ross Atkins has talked to the Miami Marlins about their plethora of pitching, which is exciting. However, the cost of doing that business might be too much for our comfort.
Even after the José Berríos extension, the #BlueJays are working diligently to upgrade their rotation. They continue to talk with their own free agents — Ray and Matz — as well as Kevin Gausman, among others. They've also spoken with the #Marlins on their starters. @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 16, 2021
We should preface this discussion with the reminder that Jon Morosi is not the ‘insider’ that a Ken Rosenthal is and if you were to look at the volume of rumours he puts out over an offseason, you might get an idea of how many grains of salt with which you can take his tweets, etc. That said, this one is an easy thing to throw out since the Marlins have a lot of pitching and Toronto is in need. So, let’s assume that Morosi is correct.
If that is the case, we can proceed with the fun game of trying to piece together a potential trade and then the less fun part of accepting what it’ll cost to land one of the Marlins’ starters. MLBTR points out that arbitration eligible arms like “Sandy Alcantara, Pablo López and Elieser Hernández are each controllable through 2024 via arbitration” and could be available. So, let’s have some fun and see if there is a deal to be made. Note that this whole exercise will be using Baseball Trade Values. This site is not the be all and end all when it comes to assessing deals, but it is a good place to start this kind of discussion as it takes contract status and performance to calculate a value of each player. And, it’s a fun site to use.
The 26 yr old righty is coming off a 4.2 fWAR season that saw him put up an ERA of 3.19 over 205 innings (33 starts). 2021 was not his first full season either. In 2019, he made 32 starts. We know that health was a key factor in Toronto acquiring and extending Jose Berrios, so this cannot be dismissed. He’ll be a free agent on 2025, so there are two more years of team control, pushing his cost that much higher.
According to BTV, Alcantara comes with a value of 78.4. If Toronto is going to trade for him (at least on the BTV site), they’ll need to come close to that value. This is where it gets scary. But, we’ll follow the MLBTR suggestion that Miami is looking for catching and outfield help. Here we go:
If BTV is to be believed, sending Nate Pearson, Alejandro Kirk, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Jordan Groshansto Miami is not quite enough to make this a balanced trade. However, for Blue Jays fans, it might be far too heavy a cost for a starting pitcher. Some will balk at Pearson and others will likely reject the idea of trading Gurriel, opting to send Randal Grichuk and cash instead. That might be more palatable for us, but BTV suggests that actually decreases the value going to Miami and would be rejected.
The 25 yr old put up a 3.07 ERA in 20 starts last season on his way to a career high K% of 27.5%. He is projected to reach 3.3 fWAR in 2022. He will also be a free agent in 2025, giving two more years of team control. If the cost for Alcantara is too high for you, let’s see what it might take to land Lopez. BTV lists his value at 57.1, so a total of 42.20 with the Grichuk, cash, Kirk, Nate, Groshans is not quite enough. BTV says Miami is overpaying “moderately”. Switching Grichuk to Gurriel has the Blue Jays overpaying, which is likely more a comment on the value that Grichuk brings than anything else. Switching to Gurriel gets the deal done, but would fans really feel comfortable giving up THAT MUCH?
Hernandez is 26 and comes with the same amount of team control, but is the least accomplished of the three starters. In 11 starts in 2021, he put up an ERA of 4.18 and 0 fWAR. Steamer sees a bit of an improvement in 2022, but that isn’t enough for BTV to see a value more than 5.2, making him by far the cheapest option of the three. In fact, to land him, even a straight up deal for Kirk would have Toronto overpaying. Could Atkins convince Miami to add another piece? When you take the BTV values out of it, it would be tough to imagine the Marlins agreeing to a one for one deal, here.
Looking into the possibility of Miami and Toronto matching up in a trade might give some fans heart palpitations. Would we really be OK with giving up the kind of talent required to obtain a starter like Alcantara? Would trading for one like Hernandez even help them reach the postseason? It’s a tough situation.
For the record, I have already chosen my path: ALL IN, BABY! Championships are worth it. But, even I have to admit that I would at least have to think REAL hard on giving up the talent package required to land an Alcantara. It would certainly be an ‘all in’ type move and I would be applauding the intestinal fortitude Atkins would be using to pull off this deal. It would certainly send the message that the Blue Jays are serious about winning it all in 2022. Sure, there are no guarantees, but this would be a step in that direction.
The question this all highlights is: Just how ‘all in’ do you want the Blue Jays to go? There is likely a deal to be worked out with these two teams, a deal that may or may not involve the names listed in the BTV experiment. But, what is true regardless is that Toronto will have to pay a lot to land a starter like the ones above. Would you be OK with that?
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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.