Blue Jays: Why we should expect a trade (or two) before Opening Day

TORONTO, CANADA - NOVEMBER 2: Mark Shapiro speaks to the media as he is introduced as president of the Toronto Blue Jays during a press conference on November 2, 2015 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, CANADA - NOVEMBER 2: Mark Shapiro speaks to the media as he is introduced as president of the Toronto Blue Jays during a press conference on November 2, 2015 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

With the way the Blue Jays have their current 40-man roster set up, we should probably expect a small trade or two before Opening Day.

We’re less than two weeks away from players starting to report to Spring Training in Dunedin, so for the most part the roster has largely been assembled already.

However, for the Blue Jays I think there will be several tweaks before we get to Opening Day, for a few different reasons. First, they could use a little more help for their bullpen, and I imagine that Ross Atkins and company are looking for some veterans who are willing to sign MiLB contracts to compete for a job this spring. Secondly though, the Blue Jays may need to make a trade or two in order to clean up their depth charts a little bit.

There are two areas I feel like this idea could apply to, and the first would be the outfield, which has been a widely discussed topic all winter. As things stand right now we’re likely looking at a starting trio that would include Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Randal Grichuk, and Teoscar Hernandez. Options competing for playing time and/or a spot on the bench could be Derek Fisher and Anthony Alford, who are out of minor league options, and also Jonathan Davis and Billy McKinney who could return to Triple-A. They also have a few infielders who can slide out to a corner outfield spot such as Cavan Biggio, Brandon Drury, and Santiago Espinal, although the latter will likely start the year in Buffalo.

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The discussion for the Blue Jays about the outfield this off-season has been about finding an upgrade for centre field, not worrying about depth. As things stand right now, they’re arguably in a place where they have too many players for not enough spots. Granted, not everyone is going to stay healthy for the entire season, but it wouldn’t be surprised if the Blue Jays made a smaller trade to clear up some space on the 40-man roster. I’d hate to see it personally, but a guy like Alford could be a perfect candidate for a small deal before the ultimate roster crunch.

And as crowded as the outfield has become, suddenly the starting rotation depth chart is in a similar situation, which is a weird thing to say after what we witnessed in 2019. As things stand right now with everyone healthy, the Blue Jays will have a top-4 that will include Hyun-Jin Ryu, Tanner Roark, Chase Anderson, and Matt Shoemaker, with a battle for the fifth starter’s gig. If the Blue Jays decide to use Shun Yamaguchi out of the bullpen that will help on a few different levels, but he’s going into the Grapefruit League schedule hoping to win that last job, and the Blue Jays plan to give him an earnest look there.

Beyond Yamaguchi, they have quite a number of suitable options to chose from, which again, is a very refreshing place to be after last year. In no particular order, the Blue Jays will be evaluating Trent Thornton, Ryan Borucki, Anthony Kay, T.J. Zeuch, Jacob Waguespack, Sean Reid-Foley, and more. When you consider that they could also fill out their Triple-A rotation with guys like Patrick Murphy, Yennsy Diaz, Hector Perez, and even a potentially healthy Julian Merryweather, that’s a lot of pitchers to find innings for. Oh, and there’s some guy named Nate Pearson on the way as well.

I can’t believe I’m saying it, but the Blue Jays may actually be a in a position where they could afford to trade a starting pitcher or two. Most MLB teams need at least 10 rotation options to get through a 162 game schedule, but so far I’ve mentioned 16 candidates that could realistically have a chance to make a start at the big league level this year. You can never have too many pitchers, but with the amount of veteran additions to the rotation this off-season, suddenly the Blue Jays may actually have a tough time finding enough innings for everyone.

I’m not suggesting that a blockbuster is on the way or anything, but the way things are sitting between the starting rotation and the outfield, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see a smaller deal happen before the end of March. For example, maybe the Blue Jays could package a pair like Anthony Alford and Hector Perez in order to bring back a useful reliever. That kind of deal would clear two spots on the 40-man roster, one they already need to use to add Rafael Dolis officially at some point, and would help address the sudden glut of options at their disposal.

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This type of roster juggling is all part of the process for MLB teams at this time of the year, and it’s why having some flexibility can be beneficial. For the Blue Jays, right now they’d likely stand to benefit from making a small trade or two, and I expect we’ll see just that sometime in the next 4-6 weeks. That’s purely my own speculation, but the more you look at the situation on paper, the more it seems like it’s inevitable.