Blue Jays: Looking back on Ross Atkins’ work from the 2017 season

David Corcoran
SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 3: Teoscar Hernandez #37 of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrates after hitting a triple off of relief pitcher Chasen Bradford #60 of the Seattle Mariners during the ninth inning of a game at Safeco Field on August 3, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. The Blue Jays won the game 7-2. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 3: Teoscar Hernandez #37 of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrates after hitting a triple off of relief pitcher Chasen Bradford #60 of the Seattle Mariners during the ninth inning of a game at Safeco Field on August 3, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. The Blue Jays won the game 7-2. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) /
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Previously, I looked back at the trades Ross Atkins made in 2016. Now I will be reviewing some moves that Atkins made during 2017.

After looking through his 2017 season I found this was probably the quietest year that Atkins had, just some small low key transactions.

In the previous article, I had already talked about the Kendrys Morales signing which happened on November 18, 2016, and I felt was a mistake.  I also spoke about the Jose Bautista contract on January 18, 2017, and Edwin Encarnacion signing elsewhere.

I’ll add, although the Blue Jays acquired the first-round pick that landed them Nate Pearson, I think they should have signed Encarnacion.  A late first-round pick in baseball has better odds of not working out than they do of working out.

Here is a look at his most notable moves:

November 18, 2016 – On the same day that the Blue Jays signed Kendrys Morales, Atkins made two under the radar waiver claims by selecting Leonel Campos from the San Diego Padres and Dominic Leone off waivers from the Arizona Diamondback.  Campos pitched well for both the Bisons and Blue Jays, but injuries would derail his season and career.

Leone would become a mainstay for the Jays bullpen pitching in 65 games for a total of 70.1 innings and had a 2.56 ERA.  The following offseason, Atkins would package him with a prospect for Randal Grichuk who is the now the teams’ starting outfielder with 25-30 homerun power.

February 9, 2017 – Atkins signed relief pitcher Joe Smith to a one-year deal at just $3,000,000.  Smith had a long history of pitching very well in the bullpen and was coming off a 2016 season that was split between the Cubs and Angels.  Smith pitched in 38 games to a 3.28ERA and had 51 strikeouts in just 35.2 innings pitched.

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July 31, 2017 – At the trade deadline it was evident that the Jays were not in a race for the playoffs and Atkins made two moves.  Atkins moved Joe Smith to Cleveland in exchange for two prospects in the way of Samad Taylor and Thomas Pannone.  Pannone has been up and down this year between Buffalo and Toronto; he has been a starter and reliever, so the team is still trying to figure out what he is.

So far as a starter he is 0-4 with a 10.65 ERA and is 3-1 with a 4.07 ERA in the bullpen.  In Taylor, the Jays acquired a 19-year-old middle infielder with a ton of speed.  Taylor had stolen 70 bases on 96 chances over the last two seasons and is ranked 27th on the Jays top 30 prospect list.

July 31, 2017 –Atkins sent Francisco Liriano to Houston for Nori Aoki and Teoscar Hernandez.   In 2016, Liriano was amazing with the Jays, but 2017 was different as he had posted a 5.88 ERA, so getting anything for him was a benefit.

The Jays took on Aoki’s contract and released him at the end of August.  Hernandez has become the Jays starting centerfielder and has had back-to-back 20 homerun seasons now.  The jury is still out on him whether he will be on the team when they are ready to contend, but this trade has to be declared a win for what he has brought so far.

November 4, 2017 – The last move to talk about is Jose Bautista being granted free agency and not returning.  I wish Bautista had retired at the end of 2016 as everything after that is depressing but you can’t argue the fight he has in him.  Bautista’s career was all but over at this point and he still wanted big money.  The Jays made the right decision moving on from him.

Next. Marcus Stroman trade already starting to look better. dark

2017 brought some minor moves, but Atkins brought in some small pieces for the future which didn’t cost the team anything.

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