Blue Jays have a big bag of trade chips this off-season

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 02: General manager Ross Atkins of the Toronto Blue Jays addresses the media after completing a trade earlier in the day that sent Kevin Pillar #11 to the San Francisco Giants during MLB game action against the Baltimore Orioles at Rogers Centre on April 2, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - APRIL 02: General manager Ross Atkins of the Toronto Blue Jays addresses the media after completing a trade earlier in the day that sent Kevin Pillar #11 to the San Francisco Giants during MLB game action against the Baltimore Orioles at Rogers Centre on April 2, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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It remains to be seen how aggressive the Blue Jays will get on the trade market, but they should have the trade chips to do almost whatever they want.

They might be a small step behind other talented young teams like the Braves, Padres, and maybe the White Sox, but the Blue Jays are in an enviable position these days.

After tearing down the successful veteran roster that reached the post-season in 2015 and 2016, Ross Atkins and company have slowly but surely rebuilt the Blue Jays into a new generation with a great deal of promise. We’ve already watched budding stars like Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio, Nate Pearson, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and more make their debuts over the last two seasons, and there’s a ton of talent still on the way.

In fact, as I reviewed the Blue Jays’ minor league prospects yesterday, I was reminded of the well-rounded approach that the front office has taken. There are high-ceiling talents all over the place, and the multiple “waves” that Atkins has referred to in the past are now pretty easy to see. It gives the Jays a very bright homegrown future, but it’s also set them up to be as aggressive as they want this winter. He may not be ready to push his chips to the centre of the table just yet, but Atkins has the tools at his disposal to do almost anything they’d like.

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According to MLB.com’s midseason rankings, the Blue Jays have the 7th best farm system in baseball, and you could make an argument for them to be even higher in my opinion. Regardless, they have one of the more exciting groups that are still at the MiLB level, and that’s after having graduated the likes of Vlad Jr., Bichette, and more. It’s not just top-heavy either, although the likes of Nate Pearson, Austin Martin, Jordan Groshans, and more make for an impressive top of the list.

If the Blue Jays are looking to acquire an impact player this winter, they can offer a wide variety of plus assets. They could look to move at least one catcher, with Reese McGuire seemingly out of the short-term picture with both Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk offering more short and long-term upside. There’s also Gabriel Moreno, a 20-year-old catcher who the Blue Jays are extremely high on, and who ranks at #8 in the system.

Prefer infielders rather than a catcher? The Blue Jays have a lot of options in the infield for the future as well. One would think that Bichette (SS), Vlad Jr. (1B), and Biggio (2B/3B) will be entrenched for the long haul, but that’s not set in stone. Austin Martin is the 2nd highest ranked prospect after Pearson (who didn’t quite lose his rookie eligibility in 2020), and he could end up in the infield or the outfield. There’s also Groshans who looks to have a very bright future, likely at third base, and some scouts think the best is yet to come with 18-year-old Orelvis Martinez, and even 20-year-old Miguel Hiraldo.

However, the Blue Jays might have the most trade chips when you look at the pitching staff. They auditioned a ton of strong arms in 2020, and most of them showed that they’re likely capable of handling a big league rotation spot. As things stand right now I would pencil the rotation in to include Hyun Jin Ryu, Pearson, Ross Stripling, and Tanner Roark, but there are all kinds of depth options that remain. That list includes Trent Thornton, Anthony Kay, Julian Merryweather, Tom Hatch, Ryan Borucki, Jacob Waguespack, and several more, and they hold a 9.5 million dollar option on Chase Anderson. It’s also speculated that the Jays could be interested in re-signing one or more of Taijuan Walker, Robbie Ray, and Matt Shoemaker.

The Blue Jays may decide they can part with some of the pitching depth I’ve mentioned above, or they could also turn to their deep cupboards of pitchers who’ve yet to debut. Simeon Woods Richardson moved up to #93 on Baseball America’s top 100 list this season, and there are others nipping at his heels. Alek Manoah was the first round pick in 2019 and has a huge arm, and they have other high-upside starters like Adam Kloffenstein, CJ Van Eyk, Eric Pardinho, and more.

Decision on Anderson's option not so simple. dark. Next

The waves of minor league talent have come together nicely, but at some point Atkins will start to use his stockpile a lot more aggressively. Will that be sometime over the next few months? That I don’t know, but if the Blue Jays decide to hone in on a particular trade target, they should have the trade pieces to get it done if they choose.