Blue Jays: Top Three Trade Chips On The 40-Man Roster
(2) Trent Thornton- SP
Here is an interesting one. Despite getting injured this year, Trent Thornton looked very promising in a variety of different peripherals in his 2019 rookie campaign.
First of all, his ridiculous spin rate on his curveball could become a major weapon if Thornton is able to develop his command at the big league level. This upside appears realistic on the surface as Thornton averaged an elite 1.7 BB/9 as a starter in the minors. In addition to his elite spin rate, he proved that he could eat innings as a starter, leading the Jays in IP in his rookie season. A lot of teams who are rebuilding/re-tooling would be happy to take a low-cost, high-upside pitcher with that kind of ability to eat innings.
The reason I think that he is a reasonable trade candidate for the Jays is because since his injury early in the 2020 season, the Jays have diluted their rotation with back end depth like Ross Stripling and Robbie Ray, and its hard to envision Thornton making the rotation in 2021 barring unforeseen improvement. You could make the argument that he has the potential to be a solid reliever, but I think that teams that are either re-tooling or rebuilding would probably give up a decent package in return for Thornton to go out there and eat innings.
Possible Return: Quality Utility Player
In 2020, the Jays defence was pretty underwhelming and Thornton presents an opportunity for the Jays to trade a cost controlled innings eater who is not set to hit FA until 2025, for a quality defensive utility player. Right now, the Jays need to have a backup plan for bad defensive output from below-average defenders such as Grichuk, Teoscar Hernandez, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Besides Cavan Biggio, the Jays positional players are not very versatile and it could be a game-changer to have a guy who can easily be slotted into the lineup when a player has a day off.
I think control and dollars will play a big part in this package. Obviously, Thornton hasn’t been successful enough for the Jays to command back a utility player as efficient and contractually controlled as his. However, his ability to eat innings at a low price will surely be attractive to rebuilding teams in need of place-holding inning eaters.