If the Toronto Blue Jays are going to make a trade this summer, they will likely need to dip into their prospect pool. We look at its depth.
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The Toronto Blue Jays will likely be buyers this summer. They certainly won’t be sellers, not with a 97.3% chance of making the playoffs. So, not only is it safe to assume they’ll be buyers, it is also safe to assume that they are looking for pitching upgrades. The offense has shown the world what it can do when it is clicking, so there isn’t much work to do there. To bring in pitching, Toronto will need to tap into its supply of prospect talent.
We’ve seen the Blue Jays do this already over the last year or so. Trading for Berrios and Chapman certainly emptied the cupboards a bit. The good news is there is plenty of talent left. With that in mind, let’s take a look at who could be used in trade talks. Before continuing, it is important to note the criteria I’ll be using for who can be considered a trade chip. Firstly, I’ll look at MLB’s ETA’s for players. The assumption can be made that teams will be looking for as close to big league ready prospects, so an ETA of 2022 or maybe 2023 qualifies a prospect for this discussion. Prospects who are likely blocked at the big league level will also be included. As well, this whole exercise ignores the fact that a current big leaguer, like Alejandro Kirk, could be involved. We are only focusing on prospects, here. Finally, we are also assuming the Blue Jays will not trade Gabriel Moreno.
With all of that in mind, let’s see how some of their top prospect trade chips have performed so far this season, and whether they’ve increased or decreased their value.
With Matt Chapman signing a two year deal with Toronto this spring, one has to wonder if that is designed to lineup with the 2023 ETA of Orelvis Martinez. IF that is what Toronto had in mind, it is likely safe to say that Martinez is staying put. The 20 yr old has already hit 14 home runs in AA, so I’d hope they keep him. Someone who may or may not be in the future plans, depending on the club’s long term belief in Bo Bichette and his glove is Leo Jimenez. The 21 year old short stop had an ETA of 2024.
Jimenez hasn’t shown much power to speak of, but he has an ability to put bat to ball and get on base. He’s slashing .231/.350/.359 with a wOBA of .334 and a wRC+ of 113. These are good numbers, but down from the wRC+ of 168 and OBP of .517 we saw last season. So, there’s reason to think he could increase his numbers a bit. Regardless, at such a young age and being in A+ currently, it may not be likely that other clubs see him as close to ready as Fangraphs did in January and they may agree with MLB’s estimation. That said, he’s a lot of high value.
Jordan Groshans comes with an ETA of 2023, which may have seemed late last year. With no clear third baseman in Toronto at the time, fans were clamouring for some Jo-Gro action. The fact that he put up a wRC+ of 124, preceded by values of 167 and 150 in the previous two seasons, obviously helped their case. Instead, Toronto waited until this year and snagged a Gold Glove calibre third baseman in Chapman. With Chapman in place and Martinez looking like a legit threat, perhaps Groshans could be of interest to other clubs.
Otto Lopez has already had a whiff of the big leagues, but the 23 yr old infielder with an ETA of 2022 has struggled so far this season. In 36 games, he has seen his numbers drop like a ton of bricks. Slashing .186/.290/.297 in AAA does not sound like a guy who is big league ready. That said, he has a track record of hitting much better than that and comes with defensive versatility, which is certainly appealing. Maybe a change of scenery could help him.
26 yr old Bowden Francis and Samad Taylor could also appeal to other clubs with their ETA of 2022. In 36 AAA innings, the 26 yr old Francis has an ERA of 8.25, though. His age and poor start to this season are not likely to have teams ringing the phone off the hook, though he could be a throw in piece to get a deal done. However, the 23 yr old Samad Taylor has his speed on full display this season. Already with 21 stolen bases, Taylor has an OPS of .731, which comes with an OBP of .343. He is likely to present some value in trade talks. Of course, Toronto has to decide if he is part of their future. Considering his rise has been a slow, rolling boil, as opposed to an explosion, it is difficult to say if they see him as more than a bench OF bat.
Beyond the names listed here, Toronto has a number of talented arms, but they are not close to big league ready. Take Ricky Tiedemann for example. He’s shooting up the organizational ladder this season as batters are hitting just .123 and have stuck out 77 times in 49.2 innings. His 1.27 ERA definitely stands out. The 19 yr old lefty is likely to garner some attention, but cannot be considered big league ready yet.
So, it will be interesting to see how Toronto navigates landing the additions they need. Of course, trying to figure out exactly who other teams value and how much is an impossible task. So, while we can look at their top prospects and take guesses, we won’t know who is on the move until they’ve already moved. We could see some of the above names dealt in the coming weeks, some more obvious than others. The real takeaway is that the Blue Jays may have dipped into their prospect pool already to land significant pieces, but there are still others they could use.
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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.