Blue Jays: Like them or not, this front office has been savvy

DETROIT, MI - JULY 15: Francisco Liriano
DETROIT, MI - JULY 15: Francisco Liriano /

The Blue Jays’ front office made a pair of moves at Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline, sending Francisco Liriano to Houston, and Joe Smith to Cleveland.

It wasn’t quite as busy as some people expected, but the Blue Jays were busy on the final day before the non-waiver trade deadline. They started things off by sending Francisco Liriano to the Houston Astros in exchange for Nori Aoki, and Teoscar Hernandez, and then shipped Joe Smith to Cleveland for minor leaguers Thomas Pannone and Samad Taylor.

I think most Blue Jays fans would concede that this trade deadline was more difficult than usual, given the recent performances of the obvious trade candidates. Liriano has largely struggled this season, and was targeted by the Astros as a reliever candidate, which is a role he should be well suited for. However, as a starter that made more than 13 million this year and had an ERA of 5.88, he has to be considered a disappointment in 2017, at least so far.

Trading someone like that especially for any value in return, was no easy task, and yet the front office did just that. Teoscar Hernandez is a major league ready outfielder, and a pretty solid one at that. The Astros have exceptional depth in their outfield picture, so his presence on the team was pretty much blocked.

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It was the same case for Nori Aoki as well, who was having a reasonable season in just under 200 at bats, hitting .272 and largely playing like he always has. Nothing flashy, but always a steady OBP presence in the lineup. He’s making just 5.5 million this season, and has another year of arbitration control if the Blue Jays decide to stick with him next season as well.

All in all, that’s not bad for Liriano, who again, had an ERA of 5.88 in 18 starts and 82.2 innings.

As for the Joe Smith deal, there’s a little bit more to unpack here.

Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins are intimately familiar with the Cleveland Indians’ organization, and as much as it draws ire from some Blue Jays’ fans on social media, it makes sense that they’re interested in pieces from that pipeline. Especially in a deal like this, the front office is taking a chance on two lower level prospects, and they obviously see some upside in one or both in order to make the deal.

The second piece is, Joe Smith is much closer to where his family is based, and with the trade leaked the news that his mother has been ailing. This trade allows him to be closer to her during this difficult time, and that adds an element of class front the Blue Jays’ brain trust. I would be surprised if Smith or his agent hadn’t mentioned that Cleveland would be a desired destination, and the fact that the Blue Jays made it happen will bode well for their future.

Whether that means Joe Smith would entertain coming back to Toronto in the future, or even if it strengthens the reputation of the front office, that aspect of the deal has value, even if this is a emotionless business at other times.

Finally, looking at the big picture you have to like what Atkins and Shapiro did with Drew Hutchison, and how it’s ultimately turned out. By eating Liriano’s contract in last season’s trade, the Blue Jays also acquired minor leaguers Harold Ramirez and Reese McGuire, who are both valued members of the MiLB system. By sending Liriano to Houston a year later, they’ve also added Hernandez to the minor league stable, which is a huge win.

You can hate that they didn’t re-sign Edwin Encarnation, or debate any other variety of moves, but you have to admit that they’ve made some good ones too. If you ask me, today was a good day for the front office.

Next: Aoki/Hernandez is a great get for a rental Liriano