After the Yankees extended Aroldis Chapman’s contract on Saturday they may no longer be interested in Ken Giles, but it won’t hurt the Blue Jay reliever’s trade market.
Despite all kinds of rumours last July, the Blue Jays ended up hanging on to their closer in Ken Giles, who still has one year remaining on his current contract. With that in mind, there’s a good chance the 29-year-old will be traded sometime this winter before he becomes a free agent after the 2020 season.
As was the case for most or even all of the Blue Jay veterans that were still on the roster in July, Ross Atkins and the rest of the front office reportedly had talks about dealing Giles this past summer. There was even a rumour that a trade was close with their division-rival Yankees, but Giles’ uncertain health likely didn’t help the two clubs work out a compensation that would work on both sides. As a result, he ended up finishing the year in Toronto and thankfully he proved that he’s healthy and should be ready to dominate again next spring.
Assuming the Blue Jays do shop their veteran closer again, there’s a good chance that his trade market just improved on Saturday, even if the Yankees likely took themselves out of the running. The Bronx Bombers ended up extending the contract of Aroldis Chapman, who is now under contract for $48 million over the next three seasons. Instead of exercising an opt-out on the last two years and 30 million of his deal, the Yankees elected to give him an extra year and more money. That obviously was enough to make Chapman happy enough to stay.
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As for the Blue Jays, Chapman being removed from a potential free agent market as a closing option should help bring back a better return for Giles, should they end up trading him. Outside of a few less than premium options like Will Smith, Sergio Romo, and Daniel Hudson, there really won’t be a lot of closer’s experience on the free agent market this winter. There are guys like Dellin Betances, or Steve Cishek who could arguably do the job, but Giles would easily be viewed as a better option, even if he would have to be acquired through a trade.
That is, assuming there is a team out there willing to fork over the type of trade package that Atkins and company are looking for, and it shouldn’t be a small ask, even with just one year remaining on his contract. He can be a real difference maker, finishing last season with a 1.87 ERA, a 1.000 WHIP and 83 strikeouts in 53 innings pitched, also collecting 23 saves. Had it not been for some shaky health, including around the time of the trade deadline, those numbers could have been even better.
The Yankees likely won’t be in the market for his services, but one would think there will be plenty of suitors. Off the top of my head I would guess that teams like the Braves, Mets, Dodgers, Angels, Red Sox, and more could have a need, and that’s far from an incomplete list. Even those teams that already have a solid closer could be talked into bolstering their bullpen at the right price, especially given the way teams have built power bullpens in recent years.
There is a good argument for hanging on to an elite closing option like Giles for the future in Toronto, but with just one year left on his current deal, it’s certainly understandable that the front office would be shopping him right now. When asked whether they think he’ll be traded this off-season, pretty much all of the Sportsnet staff acknowledged that he’ll likely be dealt this winter, so it’s something we should brace ourselves for, even if it may not be a popular decision.
The key will be getting the right return to help this team in the not so distant future, as the rebuilding process is already starting to come together around a young core that includes Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and more. Having Chapman off the market will certainly help his value, and if they can add another piece to the future of this team, then so be it.