Blue Jays’ outfield isn’t the surplus to trade from right now

ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - MAY 29: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. #13 of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on in the first inning during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on May 29, 2019 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - MAY 29: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. #13 of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on in the first inning during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on May 29, 2019 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /
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The Blue Jays’ front office might be open to dealing Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in the right deal, but their outfield doesn’t exactly have the surplus to be trading from.

The Blue Jay are expected to have an interesting off-season with plenty of available payroll room, and the need to upgrade in several areas, but I don’t think many of us expected the rumour that circulated on Monday.

TSN’s Scott Mitchell reported that the Blue Jays could be “open” to the idea of trading Lourdes Gurriel Jr. under the right circumstances, which definitely fits in the unexpected column for me. I’m not surprised that the front office would remain open to almost anything, with a few exceptions, but Gurriel Jr. seems like a pretty obvious fit as part of the core of this team going forward.

Despite battling injury and early-season struggles, Gurriel Jr. impressed in 84 games by hitting .277/.327/.541 with 20 home runs, 19 doubles, and 50 RBI in 314 -bats. He also seems to have found a home in left field, displaying his potential as a great athlete with a strong arm as an outfielder, also showing steady improvement before his second-half injury. Add in the fact the the Blue Jays have him under contract for just under 18 million for the next four seasons (and a potential extra year of arbitration control), and he’s a great fit for this team going forward.

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It’s entirely possible that the report is nothing more than a rumour, but if we assume that it’s true then it shows that the Blue Jays have very few untouchables on the roster right now. One would think that list would include Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Nate Pearson, and maybe even Cavan Biggio, but it sounds like it’s a short list anyway.

That much I can understand, as overvaluing your own can be a dangerous thing, and the possibility exists that someone could come along and blow the Blue Jays away with an offer for Gurriel Jr that would improve the team going forward. However, I don’t see it happening for a number of reasons, and I don’t think the Blue Jays have the outfield surplus to be trading from at this point, at least not when it comes to the idea of dealing away their best one.

It’s been widely assumed that Gurriel Jr. and Randal Grichuk will get two of the starting spots next season, and unless the Blue Jays bring in a starting centre fielder, then it’s likely that the other 2-3 outfield jobs will be filled by some combination of Teoscar Hernandez, Derek Fisher, Billy McKinney, and Anthony Alford. While each of those four has some upside, none of them has the ceiling that Gurriel Jr. projects going forward. It’s debatable whether or not Grichuk will still be around when this team is a finished product because of his shortcomings, so why move the one guy who looks like a long-term fit?

Maybe the Blue Jays really are serious about signing someone like Marcell Ozuna, which wold make trading a guy like Gurriel Jr. a little easier to stomach. I don’t mind Ozuna at all, but he’ll be an older, more expensive version of what the Blue Jays would hope to get from their current left fielder, and that’s before he’s fully developed at the highest level. We likely haven’t seen the best of Gurriel Jr. yet, and you could make an argument that Ozuna’s prime years could be behind him with the way baseball is getting younger all the time.

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Obviously I’m against the idea of trading Gurriel Jr., but I can accept that the Blue Jays’ front office is keeping an open mind. That said, unless they plan on adding to the outfield in a significant way (and even then), I don’t think Gurriel Jr. is a player they can afford to let go of, for 2020 or beyond.

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