Blue Jays: An Imagined Atkins/Girsch Conversation

TORONTO, ON - JULY 2: Josh Donaldson
TORONTO, ON - JULY 2: Josh Donaldson /

With the rumours about a still-strong Cardinals interest in Josh Donaldson, I thought it might be fun to imagine a Ross Atkins / Mike Girsch conversation

The setting:  Ross Atkins`office.  Ross is sitting at his desk.  The phone rings.

Mike Girsch:  Hey Ross.  It’s Mike.  How are you doing?

Ross Atkins:  Hello Mike.  I am good, thanks.  What can I do for you (as if I couldn`t guess)?

Mike:  I wanted to touch base on Josh Donaldson.  Can we talk?

Ross:  Always willing to talk, Mike, but we are not looking to move Josh.  So it would take an exceptional offer. Were you planning to make one?

Mike:  Thing is, Ross, we would only be getting a single year of Josh.  As good as he is, I can’t justify offering you the moon for one year.

Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays /

Toronto Blue Jays

Ross:  Not sure I agree, Mike.  Right now, with your moves to date (congrats on Ozuna, by the way!) you are an 88 win team in 2018, with decent luck.  So probably a wild card team, but likely behind the Cubs for the division.  And it would only take a bit of bad luck for you to miss on the wild card entirely (trust me on that one – after 2017, I am an expert on bad luck).

Mike:  You might be right.  So?

Ross:  Josh is a 4-5 win upgrade at 3B for you.  With him, you are a 92-93 win team, a likely division winner.  Do you really want to play in a 1-game winner-take-all wild game crapshoot if you can avoid it?

Mike:   OK, ok.  Look, I concede that Josh is a great player and that we would love to have him.  The issue is the price.  What do you think of Dave Cameron’s idea – Jedd Gyorko + Matt Carpenter?

Ross:  Both good players, but I don’t see it.  Dave’s premise is largely based on Jedd and Matt’s flexibility.  Problem is, Matt hasn’t played meaningful 2B since 2013 and the last time he played a full year at 3B he was a -10 DRS/1200.  Jedd can play 2B – though he hasn’t had 400 innings there since 2015 – and 3B, but he is not really an MLB shortstop (-20 career DRS/1200) and he has a career total of two innings in the OF.  So basically we are talking about a 2-3 WAR 1B and 3B.  I see 7 WAR in a single year as worth far more than 2 WAR for several years, and anyway, Jedd + Matt are not what I need.

Mike:  So what *do* you need?

Ross:  Pitching, mostly.  Possibly a replacement 3B, possibly a corner outfielder.  How do you feel about Alex Reyes?

Mike:  You *do* know that Alex was ranked the #1 overall prospect going into 2017, right?

Ross:  Sure.  And after his surgery, he is now ranked #15.  You *do* remember that study that found that half the pitchers who have Tommy John never pitch 100 innings in the majors post-surgery?

Mike:  Even so – hard to justify moving a #15 for one year, even of a MVP.

Ross:  Really?  We traded a #18 ranked pitcher plus extras for a HALF-year of David Price.  And remember when you yourselves traded 4 years of Shelby Miller for one year of Jason Heyward?  Miller was considered a rising star – and in fact he put up a 3.02 ERA over 205 innings in 2015 for the Braves, before netting them Swanson + Inciarte from the Dbacks.  Heyward was coming off a 5.1 WAR 2014 and had averaged 5 WAR over his last three years.    By comparison, Josh is coming off a 5.0 WAR in only 113 games in 2017 and has averaged 7 WAR over the last three years even including the 2017 injury year.  No disrespect, but Josh is a better player than Jason ever was.

Mike:  Look, I accept everything you say but I just can’t do Reyes.

Ross:  OK.  So as long as we are talking rumours, how about the one reported by Rick Hummel of the Dispatch?  He says that the Jays would expect a MLB-ready 3B and pitcher, plus a top prospect.  Would something like Gyorko + Weaver + Hudson be in your comfort zone?

Mike:  We are getting closer, but I can’t do Weaver.  He is a big fan favourite after his 2017 breakout.  And even if we replace Weaver with someone like Flaherty, a three-for-one like this is likely more than I can do.

Ross:  I hear you Mike.  Josh is a fan favourite too.  Looks like we are not yet on the same page.  But let me leave you with a thought here.  Since you are a Dave Cameron fan – going into 2017, he ranked Donaldson’s contract as the 14th most valuable in baseball.  Just ahead of Chris Sale at #15.  And you saw what Chris was traded for.

Next: Blue Jays: Tony Fernandez hospitalized in Florida

Mike:  Yeah, yeah.  OK, Ross – I think I will go call Dan Duquette now.

Ross:  Always a pleasure, Mike.  Merry Xmas!  <click>