Blue Jays: Who could be available in trades to solve the left field hole?
It’s truly remarkable to see the turn around that the Toronto Blue Jays have gone through since the beginning of the season until now. They were 2-11 and 6-17 at points throughout the beginning of the regular season. They’re now 28-29, just one game below .500 after a series split with the division leading New York Yankees. There’s no longer any chatter about who the Blue Jays will sell at the deadline. Instead, the talks should now be who they can buy?
The Blue Jays head into their series with the Oakland Athletics with Ezequiel Carrera and Chris Coghlan being the primary left fielders while Steve Pearce sits on the disabled list. It does not appear Pearce will be back any time soon. Even with Steve Pearce, the Blue Jays could use an upgrade in left field. Pearce could then be utilized as a utility guy.
There will then be a tough call in terms of what to do with the combination of Ryan Goins, Darwin Barney, and Ezequiel Carrera. If the Blue Jays add a left fielder, one of those 3 will need to go. That’s an entirely different topic of discussion though.
Let’s take a look at who could be available in a trade at the deadline. I rank them in order of my personal preference.
2017 through June 5th: .201/.280/.359/.639, 4 HR, 22 RBI, 9.7 BB%, 22.2 K%
There was some off-season chatter that the Blue Jays were interesting in trading for one of the New York Mets’ outfielders. Jay Bruce was the top guy in rumours and could still be available in trade. Bruce is having a great season thus far, so I’m looking at Curtis Granderson.
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The Mets are quickly falling out of contention and likely will be deadline sellers. Jay Bruce will come with a bit of a price tag due to the season he’s having, but Granderson is not. Granderson would fit what the Blue Jays need, which is a left handed hitting corner outfielder. As you can see by the stats above, he isn’t having the greatest of seasons to this point, which could mean he’d be had for cheap.
Due to the fact the Blue Jays likely wouldn’t be looking to move too much prospect capital, a 37 year old Granderson, who’s making $15 million could make for a relatively cheap (dollar figure and acquisition cost) addition in left field. Granderson is just a season removed from 30 home runs, 114 wRC+ and a 2.6 fWAR. He would be worth the gamble.
2017 through June 5th: .232/.313/.419/.732, 9 HR, 28 RBI, 10.4 BB%, 18.7 K%
Like Granderson, McCutchen was in some rumours pertaining to the Toronto Blue Jays. Though it was never confirmed and the source is unreliable, there was an article that came out that suggested a trade offer was on the table to send McCutchen and closer Tony Watson to the Blue Jays at one point.
McCutchen is following up a very disappointing 2016 season with one that hasn’t been much better thus far in 2017. There are some good signs thus far for McCutchen. His ISO of .187 is back up to a bit below his career avarage of .195. He’s also striking out less compared to a season ago. Part of McCutchen’s low average could be attributed to his .248 BABIP. He’s gotten pretty unlucky in that area.
Andrew McCutchen is a former MVP and fan favourite in Pittsburgh. He was the subject of many trade talks this past off-season. The Pirates currently find themselves at 26-31, which is just 4.0 back of the first place Milwaukee Brewers. Given the Pirates record, all the McCutchen trade talks this past off-season, as well as his performance for a 2nd straight year, I’d be very surprised if he isn’t moved at the deadline.
At $14 million, to add a player with the name and reputation of McCutchen is a no-brainer in my mind. There is also a team option for 2018 for $14.75 million, which means you get McCutchen for 1.5 seasons. The prospect capital would definitely be higher than that of a Curtis Granderson, but it definitely wouldn’t be as high as before. If McCutchen is shopped, don’t be surprised to see the Blue Jays in on talks.
2017 through June 5th: .292/.409/.792/1.201, 10 HR, 22 RBI, 17.0 BB%, 20.5 K%
At 28-28, the Detroit Tigers find themselves 2.5 back of the first place Minnesota Twins. The Twins likely are playing above their heads, while the 2nd place Cleveland Indians are playing below expectations. I find the Tigers to be the current day version of the early to mid 2010’s Philadelphia Phillies. Many feel the Tigers are on the verge of deciding to blow it up. Those talks are higher after the passing of owner Mike Ilitch as well.
J.D. Martinez has had an incredible start to his season after returning from injury. Martinez has hit 10 home runs in just 88 plate appearances. Throw in his .500 ISO and 203 wRC+ and you see how incredible the start to his season has been. Those numbers and the pace of his home runs won’t continue, but Martinez has a ton of power.
This is the 2nd year in 3 seasons that the Tigers have an outfielder they may decide to trade for prospects at the deadline. The Tigers were middling around .500 in 2015 when they decided to trade Yoenis Cespedes. They may do the same with Martinez.
Trading Cespedes landed the Tigers Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa. Cessa was later flipped to the Yankees for left hander Justin Wilson. I would imagine a similar type of package could get the job done for the Tigers to send Martinez to the Blue Jays. It’s impossible to speculate on who would get it done, but a similar comparison to that trade could be Sean Reid-Foley and Justin Maese.
Martinez is a free agent at seasons end and at only $11.8 million, the Blue Jays could easily absorb his salary. It all depends on what the Tigers end up doing at the deadline, but they could do something similar to 2015 if they remain around .500.
There are many other free agent outfielders that could be available at the deadline. I picked the 3 I feel meet the Blue Jays needs best. Other outfielders that are free agents at seasons end are Melky Cabrera, Jon Jay, and Cameron Maybin. Those 3 outfielders could also fit the bill and come cheaper than Granderson, McCutchen, and Martinez.
Next: Blue Jays What Ifs Part 3: The Donaldson trade
If you’re running the Blue Jays, who is your top target to fill left field if it’s not Steve Pearce when he returns from injury?