Recall back to last December when the Toronto Blue Jays signed veteran infielder Eric Sogard to a minor league deal, it was hardly a move that would make headlines or improve ticket sales.
Now, six months later, Sogard’s signing may go down as one of the more significant signings of the 2019 season.
It goes without saying that Eric Sogard has been nothing short of remarkable at the plate. In just 50 games, he has hit a career-high eight home runs, five more than his previous career high while batting .305.
Few likely had their money on Sogard leading all the team’s hitters in WAR at the midway point, especially considering that the journeyman infielder failed to even make the opening day roster but that is exactly where Sogard has found himself.
Sogard’s unexpected production can certainly be talked about to great lengths, he has proven to be a consistent option as a leadoff hitter and in the field but a ton of credit must go to the Blue Jays’ front office.
Tasked with a long rebuild, the front office not only has to develop key players for future years but they must also find stop gap players to bridge the gap, with the hope that these players can be flipped for prospects in the future.
More from Toronto Blue Jays News
- Matt Chapman has been exactly what the Blue Jays needed
- Blue Jays: The goalposts are moving in the right direction
- Single-A Dunedin Blue Jays advance to the Championship Series
- Blue Jays: Comparisons for Alek Manoah’s Second Season
- Blue Jays: Adam Cimber, the unlikely decision King
Now for the third consecutive season, it seems that Ross Atkins and company have found a veteran piece that could be flipped at the trade deadline for a potential future contributor.
Just a few weeks before spring training in 2017, the Blue Jays signed veteran reliever Joe Smith to a one-year contract. In a very short amount of time, Smith became one of the more consistent arms in the team’s bullpen, pitching in 38 games with a 3.28 ERA.
With the team out of contention, the Blue Jays flipped him to the Cleveland Indians for Samad Taylor and Thomas Pannone. While Pannone has been unable to replicate his minor league numbers, the Blue Jays managed to turn a rental reliever into a potential lottery pick.
Rewind back to last season and the same situation arises with Seunghwan Oh, another veteran bullpen arm. Oh caught fire in the bullpen last season with a 2.38 ERA before he was traded to the Colorado Rockies for Forrest Wall, Chad Spanberger and Bryan Baker.
Of the three prospects, Wall has looked the most impressive, batting .277 with an .800 OPS at New Hampshire. While there is no telling whether any of the prospects acquired will significantly contribute at the major league level, the front office must be given credit for managing to turn veteran players on short term deals into potential long-term lottery picks.
With the trade deadline just over a month away, there is a good chance that Sogard will follow the paths of Smith and Oh by landing on a contending team in need. While if this is the case, the prospect return may not be earth-shattering, it is still a significant return for a player that many assumed would spend this season in Buffalo.
Smith, Oh, and Sogard may not be remembered when the Blue Jays enter their competitive window but now for the third consecutive season, the front office has shown a keen eye for veteran talent.
In what has been a long and sometimes painful rebuild, the front office has managed to turn veteran pieces into lottery picks very consistently and that should not go unnoticed.