Blue Jays Trade Deadline: Who’s untouchable?

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With the non-waiver trade deadline looming over the proverbial heads of Jays fans in the coming weeks, there needs to be a set of checks and balances established for what the organization is willing to part with in pursuit of this season’s pennant race.

Tuesday, on the Fan590’s Prime Time Sports, Bob McGown talked to Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi regarding the asking price of various starting pitcher’s on the trade market. Specifically, they discussed “the shark”, Jeff Samardzija. In that conversation, McGown eluded that the current, or most recent asking price, for the Shark would be current injured starter Marcus Stroman.

Rightfully so, McGown and Co. talked about how that conversation would be and should be extremely short. Rick Hahn, the GM of the White Sox, should hear nothing more than the dial tone on that phone call.

After all, Stroman figures to be a key player for any future of the Toronto Blue Jays. At just 24-years-old, Stroman’s best year’s are in front of him unlike Samardjiza who is likely on the back-half of his peak years. According to Baseball Prospectus’s PECOTA Projection system, Stroman will be worth more than 2.5 WARP for the next four seasons with mid 3 ERA’s until 2024.

Jeff Samardzija on the other hand has a much less optimal forecast. PECOTA projects him to finish the season with a 4.15 ERA and be worth 0.3 WARP–he’s currently at 1.0 WAR– so giving up more than 10 wins and years of control in Stroman for months of what could be staggering regression from Samardzjia, borders on insanity no matter what way you spin it.

Of course, those are just projections. If they were concrete, the world wouldn’t bother participating in sports. They’d be decided for us by computers, not fallible, emotionally driven and unpredictable human beings.

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Other than Stroman, two other untouchables–besides the obvious Josh Donaldson and Russell Martin— would be Devon Travis and top prospect Jeff Hoffman. To date in his rookie season, Travis is hitting an impressive .265/.319/.419 with 6 home runs for an impressive 1.6 WARP. Similar to Stroman, Travis is projected to be within his current potential for the better part of the next decade.

The Jays have searched high and low for a second baseman since Aaron Hill fell off his proverbial 4.0 WAR cliff in 2010 and seem to have found it in Travis. Giving it away for short-term help would send unneeded mixed messages throughout the organization for years to come.

Lastly is Mr. Jeff Hoffman who was recently promoted to Double-A New Hampshire in this, his first season of professional baseball. In 56 innings in Single-A Dunedin, Hoffman has managed a 3.21 ERA and has been even more impressive in his past 10 outings with an ERA to 2.82. Obviously this success isn’t just a flash in the pant. Since being drafted last year, he’s done little to rise to the top of the Jays prospect chain yet has been in at least one trade conversation before even lacing up.

No doubt, with prospects comes the risk of failure; the possibility of investing thousands in player who may never grow into the shoes many scouts, fans and the baseball world alike moulded for him on draft day last year.

Maybe holding these three out of trade talks could be too much to get something done before the deadline on July 31st, but really, it shouldn’t be. Daniel Norris, Miguel Castro, Dalton Pompey and the rest of the Jays prospects should still provide Alex Anthopoulos ample wiggle room to make a move of significant value.

Of course Anthopoulos could move any of the aforementioned names out of fear that he won’t be around the watch them blossom if he stands pat. That’s the beauty of the trade deadline; anyone can speculate, play the numbers and watch from the sidelines but no one except the GM’s holding the cards knows anything about what is going on come the last day in July.