It’s January 6th, and the Blue Jays still need outfield help. While they might be able to add an outfielder or two via free agency, it has become increasingly likely that they will instead address this need through a trade. A number of Jays players could draw some interest in the trade market, with some being more realistic candidates than others.
Before diving right in, there are a few players who must be set aside. Although the Jays are looking at the trade market, that doesn’t mean that absolutely anybody could be moved. Of course, nobody is untouchable, but it seems highly unlikely that a few members of the 25-man roster will be traded.
Chief among this group is Aaron Sanchez. The AL ERA leader might have even more to offer in the years to come. With any luck, the Jays could have a perennial Cy Young candidate. Sanchez still has four years of affordable control left on his contract. With his high ceiling and inexpensive contract, it would take an incredible offer to make it worthwhile to move him.
Two other members of the pitching staff are in a similar situation. Don’t expect J.A. Happ to go anywhere. The veteran has experienced a resurgence over the past two seasons. Happ is on a team-friendly deal, which will see him earn only $26M over the next two seasons. It would also be a bad look for the front office to trade a player who they signed as a free agent only a year ago. For some of these same reasons, Marco Estrada is also unlikely to be moved. Although his numbers have been strong over the past two years, it’s not clear that he would net a great return. Estrada’s back continues to give him problems, his peripherals suggest that he’s had a bit of good luck, and he is only under contract for one more season. It is hard to imagine anyone giving up a valuable outfielder in exchange for him.
Finally, there is the former AL MVP. Josh Donaldson could bring back an awful lot of prospect capital. But the Jays are trying to win in 2017. If they move their best player, then they won’t be able to seriously compete. They can get by without Jose Bautista or Edwin Encarnacion, but not without Donaldson. There’s almost no chance that they could move him and come out on the better side for the 2017 season. However, if the team is well out of contention by late-July, then expect the Donaldson trade rumours to ignite.
Now that we have discussed the players who almost certainly won’t be traded, here are some potential trade pieces that could interest other teams.
Nick Turcharo – USA TODAY Sports
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. I have discussed the possibility of trading Marcus Stroman since October. What was true then is still true now. Stroman is at best a strong #2 starter, and at worst a solid innings eater. Both of those ends of the spectrum are worth a good return. Like Sanchez, Stroman still has four years of control left. That makes him especially valuable to a Jays team that will have a few question marks in the starting rotation come 2018. For now, the rotation is an area of strength, and the outfield an area of weakness. It makes sense to try to deal from the area that will hurt you the least (see: Ben Revere for Drew Storen).
If the Jays are going to move Stroman, then it has to be for a legitimate game-winner. Christian Yelich is the one player who springs to mind (though he appears to be a long shot). Anything short of Yelich, such as Andrew McCutchen or Charlie Blackmon, would need to see more coming to Toronto. Further down, names such as Jay Bruce or Brett Gardner have to be out of the question. Stroman’s productivity and contract are worth too much. It seems as though the front office agrees, as the Jays have reportedly already turned down a Stroman-for-Blackmon deal.
It’s time to move on from Dalton Pompey. I said it, and I mean it. Amidst all of the discussion about next year’s outfield, Pompey’s name is rarely mentioned as a viable alternative to Melvin Upton Jr. or Ezequiel Carrera. The new front office does not appear to be as enamoured with the local kid as was the previous regime. That’s not exactly a surprise.
Although Pompey has been hampered by injuries, he has been uninspiring at the plate over the past two seasons in Buffalo. That has resulted in him not being given a chance at the MLB level, even when there was a clear opportunity to get regular plate appearances (such as last August). Pompey is a plus defender who doesn’t have a particularly strong bat. The Jays already have a player of that profile roaming centre field. While Pompey might not be enough to highlight a package for McCutchen, he could be more intriguing to the Yankees or Mets.
Reaching deeper into the minors, we find Sean-Reid Foley. Widely regarded as the team’s best pitching prospect, he is set to make the jump to AA in 2017. The fact that Reid-Foley is at least one year away from contributing at the MLB level makes him a little less attractive. Nevertheless, he projects to be an average MLB starter in the future, and that is certainly valuable. If the Jays want to stay clear of the MLB roster in trade talks, then any big deal would likely revolve around Reid-Foley.
4. Rowdy Tellez
If teams are looking for MLB-ready talent, then the Jays could have a potential solution waiting in Buffalo. After thriving in New Hampshire last season, Rowdy Tellez is projected to begin the year at AAA. It’s even possible that he could crack the Jays’ roster at some point in 2017. That said, if the Jays could find a trade partner who needs a corner infielder today, then Tellez would make sense. In the future, the Jays could use 1B as a place to rotate some of their older players next season, with Tellez out of the picture. It will be interesting to see if someone else has a more immediate need for his services.
Consider Vlad Guerrero Jr. to be part of only the most rare trade talks. Like, Joey Votto rare. At any rate, the Jays’ top prospect of the future looks like he will wield a strong bat one day. In his first season of professional ball, he posted a line of .271/.359/.449 in Bluefield. Not bad for a 17-year-old. Guerrero is still at least three seasons away, which makes him an investment for the future. Even so, a team on the brink of a rebuild would love to bring him into the fold. That might actually be a good reason for the Jays to hang on to him.
What do you think of the Jays’ possible trading pieces? Do you consider any of these players to be among the list of immovables, or would you add others with some value to the list? Sound off below!