Blue Jays: The bonus from their deadline trades in 2020
The Blue Jays were busy ahead of this year’s trade deadline, and while the new additions did their job helping reach the post-season, there may be an added bonus as well.
The trade deadline is a lot more fun when your favourite team is buying rather than selling, and it was a nice change for the Blue Jays in 2020.
With a shortened schedule and an expanded post-season, the Blue Jays were well set up to pursue a spot in the playoffs, which they ultimately earned. That was due at least in small part to the roster reinforcements that were brought in just ahead of the deadline including Taijuan Walker, Robbie Ray, Jonathan Villar, and Ross Stripling. They each contributed enough to help the Jays reach the playoffs, and in a lot of ways that makes the moves worthwhile. However, it sounds like there may be an added benefit to the front office’s aggressiveness this past August.
According to Sportnet’s Alex Seixeiro, both Walker and Ray in particular enjoyed their experience with the Blue Jays, even if it was a very short stint. However, that kind of positive impression can make a big difference when it come to free agency negotiations, and it’s entirely possible the Blue Jays may be interested in retaining one or both of the veteran starters.
More from Jays Journal
- Matt Chapman has been exactly what the Blue Jays needed
- Blue Jays: The goalposts are moving in the right direction
- Single-A Dunedin Blue Jays advance to the Championship Series
- Blue Jays: Comparisons for Alek Manoah’s Second Season
- Blue Jays: Adam Cimber, the unlikely decision King
Walker was very effective during his Blue Jays’ tenure, posting a 1.37 ERA and a 1.253 WHIP over six starts and 26.1 innings. He did have one rough outing against the Yankees, but it’s hard to say how things would have gone if not for a pair of Derek Fisher errors in right field that night, which sunk the team in the game, and tanked Walker’s outing. Other than that ugly inning, he was nearly untouchable.
It’s hard to say what the market will provide for the former Seattle Mariner, but he did his part to improve his stock ahead of time. He has a career 35-34 record over eight seasons in the big leagues, with a 3.84 ERA and a 1.246 WHIP over 108 appearances, making 105 starts. At just 28 years old he’s going to have several prime years left, and he should garner plenty of interest on this year’s market. If the Blue Jays want another high-end starter for next season’s rotation, the one that finished the year in their jersey might be the best option, and thankfully they might even have a head start. He made just two million in 2020, so he’s certainly due a sizeable raise, and the Blue Jays should have plenty of budget room to make a generous offer.
As for Robbie Ray, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Blue Jays were interested in bringing back the hard-throwing lefty either. That said, whether or not they can retain Walker should have very little to do with whether or not they re-sign Ray. He was decent as a Blue Jay, even if the numbers don’t really reflect that, and it’s not hard to see how he has the potential to succeed in a big way. He ended up with a 4.79 ERA and a 1.742 WHIP over his five appearances with the Jays, and throwing three solid innings in Game 1 of the opening playoff round against the Rays. Even if his numbers were a little inflated, they were a pretty drastic improvement over what he did with Arizona when he had a 7.84 ERA and a 2.00 WHIP before the trade.
Ray is likely looking for a “show me” type of short-term contract that would allow him to re-establish his value. If he felt like the change to working with the Blue Jays coaching staff was helping him find the mojo that made him a 2017 NL All-Star, it makes perfect sense that he’d want to remain in Toronto and look to continue that work next season. He shouldn’t be viewed as a #2 starter candidate like Walker could, but as a back of the rotation option, the depth could be very useful. The southpaw just turned 29 at the beginning of October, so he’s got of miles left in his arm, but he’ll likely take a pay cut from the 9.43 million he was slated to make had MLB played a full season.
As things stand right now, the Blue Jays have several starters under contract for next season including Stripling, Hyun Jin Ryu, Nate Pearson, Tanner Roark, Trent Thornton, Anthony Kay, and many more. However, if they’re serious about making it back to the playoffs in 2021, adding a starter or two should be seen as a priority. It remains to be seen if that could be Walker and/or Ray, but thankfully it sounds like the option could very much be on the table.