With the New York Yankees pulling off a big trade on Tuesday night, how does it affect the Blue Jays? Well, it is speeding up the market, for one.
The New York Yankees made a pretty big move toward their 2017 season, acquiring Todd Frazier, David Robertson, and Tommy Kahnle from the Chicago White Sox. The return from the Yankees is is reasonably substantial, but avoided their top tier options. They’re sending Blake Rutherford, Tito Polo, and Ian Clarkin, with Rutherford being the biggest prize, who was the first round pick for the Yankees in last season’s draft. The White Sox also receive veteran reliever, Tyler Clippard.
The move is an obvious signal from the Yankees that they intend on contending this year, as they’re currently sitting in the second wild card spot at the moment. After Tuesday’s win they’ve won just four of their last 11, so the move should be a lift for the scuffling club. They’ve been undergoing a soft rebuild/re-tool of their own for the last few years, and this type of aggression from the front office wasn’t necessarily expected.
The trade has an indirect, and possibly direct impact on the Blue Jays, in several potential ways. First of all, the Yankees are obviously playing things aggressively this year, so the Jays have to know they’re dealing with at least three teams in their own division who plan on making the playoffs this year (Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees are all currently in playoff position). They knew that already, but now they know the Yankees are willing to consider this year within their reach, something that wasn’t certain at the beginning of the campaign.
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It also has an effect on the trade market as well, and could speed up the timeline that the Blue Jays have to make some decisions.
Whether or not the Blue Jays should start selling their veteran pieces and rebuild/re-tool, has been one of the most hotly debated topics in Toronto lately. Ideally, the Blue Jays would be able to wait until as close as possible to the July 31st trade deadline, but trades like this only create a great sense of urgency among contenders. Everyone knew the White Sox would be selling, but by sending three pieces in one deal, they don’t have many desirable trade candidates left.
If the Blue Jays’ front office ultimately decides to start selling veterans, they’ll be in search of the best possible return, especially if they go beyond the expiring contracts of guys like Marco Estrada, Francisco Liriano, Jose Bautista, and Joe Smith. If they extend it to guys like J.A. Happ, or Josh Donaldson (who each have just one year of control remaining), they’ll want to survey the MLB pretty extensively, especially in the case of Donaldson. Former MVP’s generally garner a pretty huge return, and the Jays would need to have something substantial in order to move their beloved third baseman.
However, if they are serious about making that sort of deal, the Yankee trade puts more pressure on them. Each trade during this portion of the calendar means another possible solution is off the table for buyers, and there aren’t a lot of obvious sellers in the Wild Card era. In particular, if teams are looking for an upgrade at third base, having Todd Frazier off the board likely shifts a little more attention in Donaldson’s direction. Granted, they’re not quite in the same category in talent, contract control, etc, but it has an effect on the market regardless.
The bigger issue is the trade market though, and the Blue Jays may be forced to make an ultimate decision before they really want to. That might mean they miss out on potential trades by keeping their trade chips until closer to the deadline, or it may mean the white flag gets waved a little prematurely.