With the Toronto Blue Jays looking to sell at the trade deadline, it appears that management decided to sell low on all their assets.
We all knew that the 2019 season for the Toronto Blue Jays was going to be rough.
A young team heading into the first phase of a rebuild with all of the fan favourite players from the 2015-2016 playoff runs on the trade block, everyone knew the Blue Jays were going to be experiencing a lot of highs and lows.
As the trade deadline neared, I started to become anxious about how Ross Atkins and company would approach the busiest day in baseball.
For the most part, the Blue Jays management since the Cleveland Indians 2.0 era has been a bit lackluster on trading core players for young prospects. Even with this ‘meh’ record, there was some hope for good things to come.
An example being players like Trent Thornton, Teoscar Hernandez, and Ken Giles (look at the Astros connection), who was acquired by Atkins and co. for regular day players and could turn into key pieces for the foreseeable future (even possible key trade pieces in Giles case). Even players like Jacob Waguespack are bringing back some value.
After the dust settled at 4:01 pm on July 31, 2019, our worst fears were realized: the Blue Jays management team had sold low on their core players.
Even before July 31, the Blue Jays management were already disappointing their fans.
The only All-star on the squad this year was Marcus Stroman, who is currently having a career year on a team that gave him basically no run support.
Stroman and the Blue Jays were heading towards a divorce, with no extension talks and perceived verbal shots taken between the player and club as July 31 neared.
Then it happened.
Now don’t get me wrong, both Kay and SWR are intriguing prospects and provide the organization with some much-needed pitching depth.
It just wasn’t enough.
With Stroman being towards the top of trade bait class this year, it just didn’t seem like enough in return. There is no immediate prospect help on the MLB stage, and neither player is in the Top 100 prospect list (Kay was listed at one point, but fell off). Kay is the closest to making the team, but he is struggling this year in AAA baseball.
Could they develop into great pitchers for the Blue Jays? Sure it’s possible and you can come back to this article in 3-5 years and call me an idiot.
They are ranked 5th and 7th respectively on the Blue Jays top 30 prospect list, but if I am being honest, I think that is a bit generous given how this year has been treating both players.
To see the Cleveland Indians acquire a prospect based but MLB ready package for Trevor Bauer and the Arizona Diamondbacks sent Zach Greinke and cash (which the Blue Jays are good at doing this year) and received a huge haul of talented players in return.
Stroman is pitching better than Bauer this season and is younger than Greinke by 7 years (both are pitching similar), and the Blue Jays acquired significantly less than both of these transactions.
Both Bauer and Stroman have another year of arbitration too, so controllability cannot be an argument.
It just seemed like that with all the trade rumours involving the New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, and a multitude of contenders, it seems like Ross Atkins just settled.
No hardball. No making other executives work for it. Just settled.
With the Stroman deal done and the twitter war between fans and the public relations representative in charge of the Blue Jays account, fans got even more anxious with the trade deadline growing near.
Eric Sogard was also traded that day, but for 2 players to be named later, we can’t really judge how well this trade is going to work out until the actual players are named. Sogard came in, did his job very well, and will now get a shot at the playoffs with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Then the deals started to fly on the dreaded Wednesday, and they weren’t looking too pretty.
The Blue Jays sent reliever David Phelps to the Chicago Cubs a day prior for pitcher Thomas Hatch, who was at one point the 29th ranked prospect in the Cubs system and projects to be like Phelps, a middle inning reliever.
He too, like Kay and SWR, is having a bit of a down year with a +4.00 ERA.
Toronto then sent reliever Daniel Hudson to the Washington Nationals for minor league pitcher and 27th ranked prospect for the Nats in Kyle Johnston. He too projects to be a reliever and could move up the farm system quite rapidly (he was in A+ ball with the Nats), but like the day prior, this one didn’t blow the door off the hinges.
To be honest, these past two trades were just average. Got something out of nothing. The Blue Jays were probably not going to keep these relievers for the long haul of the rebuild, so trading them and getting some value worked. Could they have done better? Sure. Could they have done worse? Also, sure.
Then came the meat and potatoes for Toronto Blue Jays trading on trade deadline day.
And that was it. Nothing else. It almost seemed like you kept refreshing your sports app to see who else would be included in the trade, and would only leave disappointed.
Like I said previously in this article, I don’t have an issue with who we acquired, it just seems like we didn’t get enough in return. Fisher doesn’t become a free agent until 2025 and could play a big part in the future of the Blue Jays outfield, but he was on the outside looking in at Houston. The team is contending for the playoffs and I feel like a stiff arm from Atkins could have gotten the Astros to add more to the pot.
My problem is that it seems like Atkins and his band of misfits sold low on some core players like Stroman and Sanchez?
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Was Aaron struggling this season? Yes. But he was a starting pitcher who could be an absolute force when he was pitching well, and he even had a sub 4.00 ERA two months into the season. Even if the Astros put Sanchez into the bullpen, he has a year of control before free agency and could excel well in that role.
It just seems like management once again settled for a return while selling low on their core players. The Blue Jays held the cards while playoff-bound teams came calling, and we simply bet on the minimum. We didn’t even need to trade Stroman, Phelps or Sanchez with their controllable years, but it seems like the front office just jumped the gun.
Smoak is a free agent at the end of the year, and with teams looking for a switch-hitting power first baseman, I just don’t see how management decides to keep him on the roster. He was a player we could have gained some prospect capital on (not a top 10 prospect by any means, but something worthwhile), and with the potential of him leaving at the end of the year, the Blue Jays may gain absolutely nothing for him. Factor in that he is taking playing time away from other prospects, I just don’t see how why management kept him North of the border.
Freddy Galvis has had his ups and downs this season, but I thought for sure he would be traded as well this season. I guess the organization valued his leadership and experience and decided on keeping him on the rebuilding team. Trading versus keeping him on the team went either way for me.
I guess I could summarize this article by saying that the Blue Jays management had a lot of opportunities to improve the team, and I feel like they came up short. During the start of a rebuild, I think this one really stings.
Whether or not you liked Stroman, he was one of the better pitchers on the trade market and the return just does not seem justified. Sanchez got sold for pennies on the dollar, our better relievers were traded for some prospect depth that may not even make the show, and the team this year comes out looking worse than it already was.
Now don’t get me wrong, I understand rebuilds are difficult and that it will take a few years before the core of this young team starts putting together some strong seasons, but with the first year having some undervalued deals where even rival executives questioned what the hell the Blue Jays were doing, I just get a bit antsy with Ross Atkins and his merry band of Clevelanders at the helm for the foreseeable future.
Hopefully, the team keeps its $5 beer promotion for the next few years because fans are surely going to need them.