Blue Jays front office should act on trades before more injuries take place

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 06: Josh Donaldson #20 of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on from the dugouts the grip on the bat in the sixth inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington on April 6, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 06: Josh Donaldson #20 of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on from the dugouts the grip on the bat in the sixth inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington on April 6, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images) /

With Josh Donaldson losing most if not all of his trade value, the Blue Jays may have missed a big opportunity. The same may have just happened with Marco Estrada, which is all the more reason the front office needs to move quickly on trading their veterans with expiring contracts.

Now that there is less than four weeks before the non-waiver trade deadline, we can expect the heavy rumours around the Blue Jays to continue. J.A. Happ has been one of the more popular trade targets being discussed right now, with even the AL East rival New York Yankees showing significant interest.

For the Blue Jays, who are currently 17 games back in their division, they’ve reached a point where it’s safe to say the front office is embarking on a rebuild of sorts. That doesn’t mean they’re going to completely clean house, but we can expect this roster to look a lot different in 2019, if not sooner than that. Steve Pearce has already been sent to the Boston Red Sox, which makes a lot of sense when you consider that his contract is expiring at season’s end, and the Jays have a lot of young outfielders that they need to evaluate.

I’m glad to see that the Jays have already started selling with the move of Pearce, as the market seems to be moving more quickly than usual. And while I think it’s great to let the market play out and get the best return, there is another factor for Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro to consider as they engage in trade talks.

More from Jays Journal

It’s hard to trade an injured player.

We’re already seeing that with Josh Donaldson, who would likely be the most coveted player on the trade market if he was healthy and producing as he has for the last number of years. Instead, with questionable health, the Blue Jays are left waiting to see if there is a GM willing to take a risk on acquiring Donaldson, especially not knowing when he’ll be able to make it back on the field. I don’t think we can expect him back in the Blue Jays lineup before the non-waiver deadline, so if he is traded his value will be reduced to a fraction of what it could have been. Surely there will be GM’s with interest, but the king’s ransom it could have been is gone.

On Tuesday we saw another Blue Jay veteran that could be lost in a similar fashion, at least as far as trade value goes. Marco Estrada drew the start against the New York Mets in Jose Bautista‘s return and couldn’t make it out of the first inning. He left with left hip soreness, and the medical staff will continue to evaluate him. At this stage it’s hard to say if he’ll have to hit the DL, but if he does it would be a big blow to his trade value. He’s been pitching better of late, and is also on a expiring contract, so sending him to the highest bidder makes a lot of sense.

As far as other veterans on expiring deals, relievers Tyler Clippard and John Axford are both on one year pacts, and were signed to MiLB contracts to boot. I’m not sure how much either would fetch, but it’s certainly worth exploring. Curtis Granderson‘s contract was just for one year as well, and there could be a contender interested in his services as a part-time player, and a valuable clubhouse presence, especially in the playoffs. Justin Smoak and Seunghwan Oh have an options for next season that will be picked up, but they could also be used as trade bait as well if the right offer comes along. Jaime Garcia has a club option on his contract for 2019 too, but he’s struggled quite a bit this year, and is also currently on the DL.

With the team 17 back in the division and 14.5 back of the 2nd Wild Card spot, the reality is that most, if not all of these players will be moved before the end of the month. However, I don’t know that there is much point for the Blue Jays to wait out the market, unless of course there aren’t any concrete, or reasonable offers.

Maybe Estrada’s injury is making me feel some urgency here, but I really don’t want to see the team miss an opportunity to trade an asset because of an injury. They were fortunate that Pearce managed to get healthy long enough to be traded, but he’s had nothing but troubles staying on the field since signing in Toronto. With Donaldson, Garcia, Danny Barnes, Aaron Sanchez, Ryan Tepera, Troy Tulowitzki, and now maybe Estrada on the sidelines, the front office is limited with what they can do. I’m not saying they could trade Tulowitzki, or that they would move someone Sanchez, but it’s next to impossible to do with them on DL. In Sanchez’s case, his value would be more compromised than it already is. If for some reason the front office wanted to explore trading Marcus Stroman, they’d certainly be selling low on him as well, even if he’s looked much better since returning to the rotation.

Add it all up and I hope that Atkins and Shapiro are ready to pull the trigger early on a trade, even if it’s for someone the team could still use for a few more starts like J.A. Happ. Obviously the market will dictate a lot of what the Blue Jays can do here, but I’m not sure there is anything wrong with being pretty aggressive sellers, with a few exceptions like Happ, and probably Donaldson.

Next: Blue Jays have scouted the Brewers' system