Blue Jays: Expect more free agents than trades going forward

MILWAUKEE, WI - JUNE 17: Yangervis Solarte
MILWAUKEE, WI - JUNE 17: Yangervis Solarte /

After the Blue Jays have traded three minor league assets this offseason, including Edward Olivares, expect the focus to shift to free agency.

I could be completely wrong about this, but I feel like the Blue Jays could be done with making any kind of significant trade again this offseason.

So far they’ve pulled off two moves, first shipping outfielder J.B. Woodman to the St. Louis Cardinals for shortstop Aledmys Diaz, and then Saturday then acquired Yangervis Solarte from the Padres for Edward Olivares and Jared Carkuff. With the two acquisitions, the Blue Jays should feel a lot better about their middle infield depth for 2018, and should have plenty of back-up for the oft-injured Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis.

The second move to bring in Solarte was significant in improving the infield depth, but it was bit of a minor surprise as the Blue Jays are pretty high on Olivares as a prospect. At 21, he was ranked #18 in the organization, and has the tools to potentially put together a bright future. That said, the front office is as aware as anyone that you have to give in order to receive, it just signalled a willingness to dip into the prospect pool, something I wasn’t sure they would do much of.

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One that that’s been pretty consistent since Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins took over, is that they haven’t been very positive about the way Alex Anthopoulos left their minor league cupboards. In case you missed it, Anthopoulos famously sent out a plethora of highly ranked arms including Jeff Hoffman, Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd, Miguel Castro and more in order to bring in Troy Tulowitzki and David Price in 2015. The new brain trust has had to rebuild things a little bit, and have frequently mentioned that they need to strengthen the minor league system from where it was when they took over.

With that in mind, I don’t think we should expect a lot more in the way of trades this offseason. Despite the rumours, it seems impossible to convince the Blue Jays to move Vladimir Guerrero Jr. or Bo Bichette (as it should be), and they don’t have a massive amount of high leverage, minor league assets, especially in the higher levels.

For the remaining few holes on the roster, which could include a starting pitcher, maybe some bullpen help, an outfielder, and a back-up catcher, the Blue Jays should have sufficient funds to find some improvements, especially with how many reputable names are still waiting for a new contract. Sure, they may like the acquisition costs more on the trade market, but I don’t see the front office being willing to dip into that resource a whole lot more.

Using Olivares (and Carkuff) to get Solarte was smart for a variety of reasons, especially considering Troy Tulowitzki has three years left remaining on his contract, and the depth could be needed beyond this season as well. Solarte has three years of control remaining as well, and at 30 years old and with a competent offensive skillset, he should be an asset for the Blue Jays at a reasonable cost, regardless of what role he ultimately settles into.

Next: Don't mess with Devon Travis' position

Beyond that type of priority need being filled, I can’t see the front office using the minor league pool a whole lot, at least in order to bring in impact players. I could be wrong, but the rhetoric around the Blue Jays with this front office has always been about rebuilding the system, not depleting it to chase playoff glory. For that reason, I would expect the focus to shift to the available free agents, and there are plenty to choose from.