The Blue Jays finally pulled the trigger on a J.A. Happ trade on Thursday. While the talent coming back is decent, it doesn’t make sense for the Blue Jays.
I had really hoped the Blue Jays would land a different type of package for J.A. Happ, their lone All-Star for 2018.
On Thursday the news broke that the Blue Jays had acquired Brandon Drury and Billy McKinney from the New York Yankees in exchange for their veteran left-hander. There had been rumours for weeks of mutual interest between the two parties, and they finally got the deal done on Thursday.
There had been rumours of the Blue Jays having a higher asking price, and I’m glad to hear that took place at least. Because with all due respect to Drury and McKinney, who are both decently talented baseball players, I don’t think this trade makes any sense for the Blue Jays, at least not according to how their roster is laid out right now.
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Starting with Drury, he’s definitely a talented player, so I don’t want to paint a picture of a useless piece here. His defensive versatility is valuable, and he’s shown that he can be an asset at the plate as well. The thing is though, the Blue Jays already have several players with a very similar skill set, including Yangervis Solarte and Aledmys Diaz at the big league level, and several youngsters who aren’t far away in the minor league system. Throw in other names like Devon Travis, Lourdes Gurriel, and Troy Tulowitzki (if he ever plays again), and I don’t understand the emphasis on infield depth.
Even Ross Atkins himself has admitted that the depth on the position player side is strong right now and the focus needs to turn to the pitching staff. Granted, you can only trade for what’s offered, but I was really hoping the Blue Jays would strengthen their weakness with their best trade asset. Drury does have three years of club control remaining, so my guess is the front office isn’t done their wheeling and dealing even if it continues into August, and into the winter.
When it comes to Mckinney, I don’t mind this part of the deal as much, especially as an add on piece to Drury. The Blue Jays got to witness his MLB debut earlier this year, and while he’s not a super prospect by any means, he could turn into a serviceable big league outfielder. The Blue Jays should have a fair amount of depth here going forward as well with guys like Randal Grichuk, Teoscar Hernandez, Kevin Pillar, and Anthony Alford, but the depth chart isn’t as deep or as talented as the infield one.
I guess my gripe is about Drury being the centrepiece, which again, boils down to positional need. Perhaps the front office will make another deal with someone like Solarte or Diaz that brings this more into focus, but right now I’m surprised that there wasn’t something better out there from the likes of the Brewers or Cubs, who were also reportedly interested. I get the argument that Drury may have been the best player available, and I generally support that philosophy in the draft, and in the trade market. This time feels different though, at least to me.
I know some folks won’t agree with me on this, and from the outside looking in it probably appears the Blue Jays did just fine getting Drury back. However, I can’t help but dislike that the Yankees gave up the player they wanted to, and didn’t really need going forward. In a year when the Yankees and Red Sox have seemingly done and gotten whatever they wanted to, I was really hoping for a win during the trade season.
This trade may be just that, but for the Blue Jays and the state of their current roster, I just don’t understand how this one makes much sense.