The Blue Jays may eventually turn to the trade market to fill their offseason needs, and if they do, the Chicago White Sox could end up as a great trade partner
With the Blue Jays in the market for at least one corner outfielder, if not two, the front office will have to explore several options including free agency and possibly the trade market. There have been reports of interest in players like Josh Reddick, Dexter Fowler, and their own Jose Bautista, but nothing concrete has materialized at this point in the offseason.
The Jays have expressed a desire to become a more well-rounded club and less reliant on the long ball, so a player like Fowler would certainly fit the mould, but he also has a qualifying offer attached, meaning the Jays would have to give up one a first round pick to sign him.
Of course, the Blue Jays could miss on their desired free agent targets, or choose to go another route altogether. There is always the trade market, and with a weak free agency class overall it’s expected that a few clubs could become sellers. We know a few teams will sell assets, but there are also a few more that could drastically affect the market. One of them could be the Chicago White Sox.
The White Sox have a solid core around Chris Sale, Jose Abreu, Jose Quintana and more, but could look to do a complete overhaul after finishing 78-84 in 2016, and 76-86 in 2015. As talented as there core is, they just haven’t been able to put it together, which could lead to big changes. The Blue Jays aren’t expected to chase the big name starters, but they could ask about the availability of a few White Sox veterans. Abreu would have obvious appeal, but chances are he’ll be among the most difficult to pry from the White Sox.
Outside of Abreu, the most appealing player to the Blue Jays should be Adam Eaton. The 27-year-old outfielder checks off a lot of boxes for the Blue Jays this offseason, bringing elite defence, speed and a left-handed bat. The Ohio native batted .284/.362/.428 with 14 home runs, 59 RBI and 14 stolen bases. His career slash line is .284/.358/.414 over 5 seasons, and at 27 he’s likely hitting his prime about now.
Eaton has been a centre-fielder for most of his career, but he also played a great deal of right field last season. He’s an above average in centre by most metrics, and among the game’s best when stationed in right. He covers a lot of ground and has a very strong arm. Some of you may remember this:
Eaton finished 2016 with a 6.2 WAR, which was sneaky-great for a player of his profile, but he was also 3.9 in 2015 and 5.2 in 2014, so this is nothing new.
The former 19th-round pick is also locked up to a reasonable contract through 2019, earning just $4 million next season. The contract also has a $9.5 million dollar option for 2020, and $10.5 million for 2021, when he’ll be just 32 years old.
Of course, players like Eaton don’t come cheaply, and if the public doesn’t grasp how good Eaton might be, the White Sox surely do. They’re the type of team that doesn’t “have to” sell, but it’s just getting to the point that it’s starting to make sense for GM Rick Hahn.
It’s hard to say how high the asking price might be, but the Blue Jays would be remiss if they didn’t at least check on the talented outfielder. With his defence, lead-off/on-base ability, speed, left-handed bat, and reputation as a great teammate, he certainly makes sense as a fit.
If the White Sox decide to deal players like Sale and Quintana, expect the Jays to be among those at least making a call to ask about Eaton. It makes too much sense not to.