The Blue Jays had a busy trade deadline where they made five trades to improve their major league roster for a 2020 playoff push.
After being sellers at the trade deadline for the past three years, the Toronto Blue Jays were buyers in 2020. They made multiple trades, mostly with short-term impact to benefit the major league roster.
On August 23, the Jays acquired Daniel Vogelbach from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for cash considerations. Vogelbach was designated for assignment by the Mariners prior to the trade. Many wondered if the acquisition of Vogelbach meant the end of Rowdy Tellez‘s tenure in Toronto as they are the same type of player, but the latter still remains with the team. Before coming over to the Blue Jays, Vogelbach was slashing .094/.250/.226 with two home runs while striking out in 20% of plate appearances, but the front office was intrigued by his power that they brought him aboard. Last season, he was an All-Star that smacked 30 home runs while walking 92 times.
Since coming over to the Blue Jays, he’s had five plate appearances reaching base in just one of them via a walk. He’s never going to put up a good average, as he’s a career .195 hitter, but he will provide power off the bench and could get some starts at the designated hitter slot. He’s also controlled until 2024.
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Over five starts with the Mariners this season, the right-hander went 2-2 with a 4.00 ERA and an opponent average of .210. In his first start as a Blue Jay against the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday, he went six scoreless while picking up the win.
Walker is an impending free agent. Some may wonder why the Jays acquired a rental when their championship window isn’t just open yet. Site expert Chris Henderson wrote a piece on why it makes sense for the Jays to get a rental starter like Walker. The other site expert of Jays Journal, Clayton Richer, made his thoughts known on why the Jays should re-sign Walker.
The Jays were also looking at other pitchers for starting rotation reinforcements, specifically the Pittsburgh Pirates. They were linked to Trevor Williams and Chad Kuhl, both controllable right-handed starters but ultimately didn’t end up pursuing them. Neither was moved at the deadline.
As there’s some uncertainty regarding when Bo Bichette will be able to return to the team, the front office was looking for a short-term replacement to play shortstop, as the tandem of Joe Panik and Santiago Espinal at arguably the games most important position, was uninspiring.
A few days ago, reports surfaced that the Jays were checking in on Los Angeles Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons. Simmons missed some time with an ankle injury but just recently returned to the field. While Simmons can make solid contact with the bat, he has close to no power, making up for that with his otherworldly defence. The Blue Jays ended up being out in the running for Simmons, although he wasn’t moved either. Instead, the Jays traded for Jonathan Villar of the Miami Marlins where they reportedly sent their sixteenth ranked prospect Griffin Conine in return, although that won’t be confirmed for a while.
This season, Villar is slashing .259/.315/.345 with nine stolen bases. He’s a light five tool player who can contribute to all aspects of the game, but other than speed, he doesn’t necessarily excel at a specific asset. He has experience playing second, third, short and centre field although he’ll be in Bichette’s position until the young star returns.
The Jays weren’t done adding to their rotation after the acquisition of Walker. They were linked to two starters on the Texas Rangers in southpaw Mike Minor and right-handed pitcher Lance Lynn. Minor was dealt to the Oakland Athletics, while the Rangers were unable to move Lynn due to the asking price for him being exorbitant. Instead, the Jays got a different lefty in Robbie Ray from the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Blue Jays were never linked to Ray until the acquired him.
Ray has struggled this season to a 7.84 ERA while walking 31 batters in the exact same amount of innings pitched, but does have elite strikeout ability as he’s averaging 12.5 strikeouts per nine innings. The Jays are hoping that pitching coach Pete Walker can help Ray fix his command issues. In order to get Ray, the Jays had to give up relief pitcher Travis Bergen, who made just one relief appearance for the team this season, and the Dbacks also sent back some money in the swap.
The Jays also added some pitching depth in Ross Stripling, at the cost of two players to be named later in a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Stripling hasn’t been great this season as he’s posted a 5.61 ERA with an opponent average of .279, but he will be a needed pitcher on the roster due to his versatility. He’s made 59 starts in his career while coming out of the bullpen 84 times and is under contract until 2022.
Overall the Blue Jays had a busy trade deadline. They were linked to many names and ended up adding five players to their major league roster as they hope to hold onto the final playoff spot, which they currently possess.
As three of the five acquisitions were rentals, we won’t be able to determine how the deals pan out until the end of the season in regards to whether the Jays make the playoffs or not. There’s also always the possibility they re-sign any of their rental acquisitions as well, but all in all it was a pretty successful deadline.