Blue Jays trade Aledmys Diaz to the Astros for RHP Trent Thornton

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 22: Aledmys Diaz #1 of the Toronto Blue Jays hits an RBI single in the eighth inning during MLB game action against the Tampa Bay Rays at Rogers Centre on September 22, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 22: Aledmys Diaz #1 of the Toronto Blue Jays hits an RBI single in the eighth inning during MLB game action against the Tampa Bay Rays at Rogers Centre on September 22, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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The Blue Jays made their first significant trade of the offseason, sending Aledmys Diaz to the Astros for RHP pitching prospect Trent Thornton.

The Blue Jays have started to address their middle infield logjam with a trade that was announced here on Saturday morning.

One of the bigger pleasant surprises from 2018 was Aledmys Diaz‘s bounce back, and the Blue Jays have now turned him into a pitching prospect from the Houston Astros. The Blue Jays will acquire RHP Trent Thornton from the Astros in exchange for Diaz. Thornton is ranked as the #24 prospect in the Astros system.

The trade makes sense from the Blue Jays perspective in that they needed to create room in the middle infield picture. Right now they currently have Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Devon Travis, Troy Tulowitzki, Brandon Drury, Richard Urena, and more talent coming in their minor league pipeline. As a result the front office has looked at several moves, including the likely non-tender of Yangervis Solarte, another infield option.

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The Blue Jays will receive a 25 year old pitching prospect in return, and one that has yet to make his MLB debut. He spent last season with the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies, and made 22 starts. He finished 9-8 with a 4.42 ERA in 124.1 innings of work, posting a 1.20 WHIP in the process.

Chances are that Thornton will mostly serve as a depth option for the rotation, something that the Blue Jays needed to address this winter. He’s not a blue chip prospect by any means, but fans never should have expected a massive return for Diaz, regardless of how much he turned his career around last year. He was an All-Star in 2016 before struggling in 2017 with the Cardinals, which ultimately lead to the Blue Jays being able to acquire him last year.

To be honest, I’m surprised that Diaz is the one that was traded out of the group, but there are also several other options that could fill the roster spot he would have taken. It’s possible the Blue Jays think Tulowitzki might be healthy enough to play next year, but if not they still have other options like Gurriel Jr, Urena, and Bo Bichette, who could very well make his debut in 2019.

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Look for the Blue Jays to continue to address both their pitching depth, and likely continue to shop some of their middle infielders this winter.