Toronto Blue Jays: Players to upgrade through trade

ST PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 29: Randal Grichuk #15 of the Toronto Blue Jays walks towards the dugout after striking out in the eighth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays on September 29, 2018 at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
ST PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 29: Randal Grichuk #15 of the Toronto Blue Jays walks towards the dugout after striking out in the eighth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays on September 29, 2018 at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /
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Blue Jays
Apr 2, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins speaks to the media during a press conference against the Baltimore Orioles at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports /

The Toronto Blue Jays are looking to upgrade at multiple positions this offseason, I am going to take an in depth look at the centre fielders that could help.

It goes without saying that not every player in major league baseball holds the same amount of surplus value.  Due to age, amount of team control and salary among many other factors, teams use a complicated equation to figure out the current value of all players across the majors and the minors to help determine who to target in trades and what assets to use to acquire those targets.

Every team has their own way of calculating the value of every player, and a math equation alone cannot be used to accurately predict a player’s true value to a different front office.  A perfect example of this is that Danny Jansen holds more surplus value than both Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Teoscar Hernandez, but I know I would prefer to have either one of the outfielders on my 26-man roster based on performance to date.

If the rumours of Cleveland’s interest in Gurriel Jr. as a main piece in return for Francisco Lindor hold any truth, it would appear at least one front office valued Gurriel over Jansen.

While surplus value still needs to be used in conjunction with the eye test and teams still need to trust the scouts they hired to make player evaluations. It is definitely a good jumping off point to help figure out what potential players the Blue Jays could target in trades this off season.

I will explore every position and try to figure out who the Blue Jays front office should target in a trade to improve the roster, or if they should even be looking to upgrade a position at all. We are all well aware that Bo Bichette is probably the shortstop of the future, but because he can potentially play other positions around the diamond, we won’t discount a potential addition at the position.

We will start with the outfield and in particular the centre field position. All things being equal, if I was choosing one player in baseball today to build my franchise around, it would be Mike Trout.  Even entering his age 29 season and coming off a year that saw his stats dip from his usual lofty levels, I believe he is the best player in baseball.  The Los Angeles Angels, however, are proving that even though you employ the best player in the sport, it doesn’t mean that you will be able to build a winning organization.

Things, however, are not equal, and this is where surplus value comes into the equation.  Ronald Acuna Jr. is considered the most valuable asset in the major leagues and that is mainly due to the fact that he accepted an 8-year deal worth $100 million plus two option years at a $17 million AAV.  The Atlanta Braves essentially bought out Acuna Jr’s entire twenties and almost every expert believes it is hands down the best valued contract for any team in the majors.  The contract is the definition of undervalued.

The Atlanta Braves are overpaying Acuna Jr. for what would be his last two pre-arbitration years as well as what would have been his first two trips through the arbitration process. As a super 2 player, Acuna Jr. would have had four trips through arbitration, the third of which would have come with a salary pretty close to what he will get paid under the terms of his eight year deal. Where the true value in that contract lies is the final year of arbitration plus the two seasons of free agency, as well as the extra two option years, paying him an annual average value of just $17 million a season.

Mike Trout for comparison at age 22 signed a six year deal worth a total of $144.5 million.  The final two seasons of that deal paid him just over $33 million per season, before his new 10 year $365 million extension kicked in this offseason.  It is Trout’s age and that contract that make Acuna Jr. the way more valuable asset around the majors.

It probably goes without saying though that neither of those players would be available in a trade unless a team was willing to go far above and beyond any logical trade package.  According to baseball trade values, the Blue Jays top four most valuable assets combined, Bo Bichette, Vlad Guerrero Jr, Austin Martin and Cavan Biggio, do not equal the surplus value that Ronald Acuna Jr. has on his own.

I will attempt to examine players that the Blue Jays could realistically target in trade to upgrade different positions around the diamond and what a realistic package of assets it would take to acquire that player. For the purposes of this experiment I will focus on players that have made their major league debuts, but that doesn’t mean minor players won’t be used in trade proposals to help make trade values more equal.

I will try to determine whether the Jays would be better off trading for one player over another, and the skilled player may not always be the best player for the Blue Jays to acquire.  So with that, let’s take a look at what centre fielders the Blue Jays front office, led by General Manager Ross Atkins, could acquire to improve the roster.