While it’s disappointing to see ace starting pitchers traded elsewhere when the Blue Jays have a clear need, it makes sense why they missed out this time around.
We finally saw some MLB transactions on Monday, with the San Diego Padres making headlines with a pair of acquisitions, even after they acquired Blake Snell on the weekend. They ended up signing Korean infielder Ha-Seong Kim, who the Blue Jays had also pursued, and then pulled off another blockbuster to trade for Yu Darvish from the Chicago Cubs.
Our own Jason Lee has already talked about the reasons why the Blue Jays weren’t able to land Kim, but why weren’t they more serious players for Snell, or especially for Darvish? As frustrating as it is to see the Padres stealing the offseason show, it makes sense at the moment.
When it comes to Snell, it was always going to be a difficult proposition to pull off a trade of this magnitude with a team in their own division. The Rays received an absolute haul from the Padres for Snell’s services, which makes sense given the left-hander’s pedigree. That said, I’m sure the Rays would have looked for even more from the Blue Jays to trade him to an AL East rival, and it’s hard to imagine what that package would even look like. What I do know is that the price would have been too steep to even meet the Padres’ offer, and I’m okay with that.
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As for Darvish, I have to admit that I’m pretty surprised that the Cubs gave him up for what they did. Not that the five players that the Cubs are getting back don’t have value, I just thought it would take higher profile prospects. At first I was surprised that the Blue Jays weren’t rumoured to be in the mix, especially with a prospect cost that I felt that they could beat for a high-end starter.
Then I remembered that Darvish had some sort of no-trade clause. Looking into it a little closer, Darvish used to have a full no-trade clause, but he was only able to block trades to 12 different teams over the winter. While I was no idea if that list included the Blue Jays, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if that was the case. We’ll likely never know for sure, but it’s entirely possible and maybe even likely that Atkins called the Cubs and was told that Darvish would block a trade to the Blue Jays. Again, I don’t know that, but it makes more sense than the idea that the Blue Jays didn’t check in on the situation at all, especially because they’ve been linked to most of the notable free agents and possible trade targets on the market.
Again, it’s not ideal that the market for top-tier starters has already started to shrink, but Blue Jays fans shouldn’t panic too much, at least not yet. The top free agents in George Springer, DJ LeMahieu, Trevor Bauer, and J.T. Realmuto all remain available, as do most of the starting pitchers at the next rung, such as Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and more. That said, the market has clearly started to budge, and that means that Ross Atkins and company are going to have to make their move sooner than later.