If the Toronto Blue Jays are going to make a big trade, they will need to dip into their farm and there not many prospects that should be untouchable
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The Toronto Blue Jays are expected to be big players when(ever) the MLB/MLBPA lockout ends. Before they challenge for a division title, they should have one or two big moves left in their quiver to assist in that endeavour. Since there is only so much money they can commit while keeping one eye to the future, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see them go the trade route. That means dipping into their prospect pool. Despite losing Austin Martin and Simeon Woods-Richardson last summer, they still have a good group if young talent. And, there aren’t many in that group that should be considered untouchable.
Recently, Fangraphs put out a list of the Top 37 Prospects in the Blue Jays’ system. And, if you love prospects, you are likely to find quite a few names you have heard before and even have fallen in love with. Names like Jordan Groshans, Kevin Smith, Gunnar Hoglund and Otto Lopez likely jump out at you. These names come with some degree of expectation that they’ll have a long term impact on the big league club. However, looking at the list, the reality is that, as much as we may want to keep them, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if we lost them, especially if it led to a championship.
When evaluating whether a prospect is someone you want to keep, it seems everyone had their preferred methodology. Some watch as many games as they can and prefer what they see with their own eyes. Others look at scouting reports and so on. Fangraphs has assigned a Future Value (FV) to prospects, which allows you to think about where they could end up if and when they hit the big leagues. For reference, 23 year old Bo Bichette currently has a 60 FV and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has a 70 FV at age 22. Clearly, these two are in a high end group of talent. A player who has a 40 FV, like Cavan Biggio, can still have a solid career, even one or two very good years, but is not likely to be a star, certainly not a Hall of Famer. With that in mind, let’s look at the current group of prospects.
Let’s take Jordan Groshans, for example. Many feel that he belongs in the ‘third baseman of the future’ conversation. He was expected to bring some power while playing good defense. He’s played a lot of short stop early in his career, but projects to be a third baseman. However, Fangraphs has him with a 45 FV, expected to carry a “skill set [that] reads more like the last half-decade of Evan Longoria’s production than that of a 30-homer threat”. Fangraphs is “..projecting Groshans as a good big leaguer, but not a star.” Filing Groshans under ‘you have to give to get’, one can come to grips with him being part of a deal that brings Toronto a star.
In fact, Toronto has a number of infielders who are in the 40-45 FV range. Leo Jimenez is one. The short stop has battled a shoulder injury, but has a bat to ball ability that makes him desirable. But, at 45 FV, he is not likely to be a star. Rikelbin De Castro is another. The defense first short stop is likely to be a utility guy at 40+ FV. Same with Otto Lopez and Manuel Beltre. This group of fielders has enough potential value to be enticing in a trade, but not enough that we should lose sleep over their departure.
On the pitching side of things, the story is pretty much the same. The highest ranked pitcher is Hoglund at 45. His bout with Tommy John is likely to impact his value in a negative way, of course. That said, Toronto’s system is not exactly flush with young, high end pitching, so they will place a lot of value on him, despite his FV mark. From there, you have CJ Van Eyk, Ricky Tiedemann and Sem Robberse at 40+ FV. Zach Logue and Bowden Francis check in at 40 FV. The Blue Jays do have a number of other pitchers with a 40 FV, but they project to be Single Inning Relief Pitchers (SIRP), which makes their trade value questionable. If teams are going to trade for prospect pitching, they might look at Toronto’s and seek a bigger package. Again, there’s enough future value there, but not enough to cry about.
After the aforementioned prospects, Toronto has quite a number of 40 and 35+ FV players and if anyone is sad about losing those kind of prospects, they are among a small group that loves to follow prospects more than big leaguers, which is perfectly fine. But, if you are a fan who wants their big league club to win, then none of the above names will really hurt your feelings if they are dealt. It might at first, but once you remember that you have to give up future talent to trade for current talent, you’ll get over it, I’m sure.
That said, there are those prospects that would hurt quite a bit if they are included in a trade. Gabriel Moreno and his 60 FV would certainly sting quite a bit. In fact, he has such promise that he may be considered untouchable by some, including the Blue Jays’ front office. He’s likely to be knocking on the door of the big league club at some point in 2022, so Toronto would likely look to deal from their big league catching depth. Expect Alejandro Kirk or Reese McGuire to be dealt before Moreno, if he’s even dealt at all. That would hurt.
The other guy that some may consider untouchable is infielder, Orelvis Martinez. He comes with a 55 FV and projects to be more of a third baseman. He’s young (19) and has time to grow into his body and his position, but he has great potential at the plate and, as Fangraphs suggests, “The bat should play anywhere, and if he’s able to stick on the left side of the infield, he has an All-Star ceiling.” That’s a tough piece to lose. He may not stick at short, but his potential is high, so he should be kept in the organization.
Beyond these two, the question of who to keep and who to trade could be answered in a million different ways. Everyone has their own preferences based on their assessment of what the organization needs both now and in the future. I used Fangraphs because it is more data based than my personal feelings. And, based on that, I would suggest that there are not many prospects that the Toronto Blue Jays should consider off limits. It wouldn’t hurt that much to lose them. And, as the saying goes, flags fly forever, so even if it hurts, I’ll get over it.
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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.