Who might be available?
It is well known that the Blue Jays are looking to improve their overall team defence, and maybe no position on the roster is a bigger weakness defensively than centre field. Other positions could use a defensive upgrade to be sure, but maybe none of them are as important as the one currently manned by Randal Grichuk.
Grichuk is by no means a horrible defender, but his optimal defensive position would probably be left field. The Blue Jays have one other player on the current roster that could be considered a centre fielder, but heading into his age 29 season, Jonathon Davis has yet to prove that he is anything more than a depth piece.
Let’s start off by getting the centre fielders that won’t be available out of the way, I already talked about Mike Trout and Ronald Acuna Jr. and we can add Cody Bellinger, Luis Robert and Kyle Lewis to that list. I will also add Christian Pache to this list as I don’t see the Braves looking to move him, and he will probably move Acuna Jr. off the position in 2021.
I also can’t see the Jays and Yankees coming together on an Aaron Hicks trade. I won’t mention any players around the league that are not an upgrade over what we currently have.
So that leaves us with three small groups of potential additions. We will call the first group option C, it includes Lorenzo Cain, Kevin Kiermaier and Bryan Reynolds. Cain and Kiermaier still bring high level defence, but in 2019 Cain took a step back with his bat before a slight resurgence in a very small sample size, as Cain opted out after only five games.
He is owed $35 million over the next two seasons. Kiermaier hasn’t fared well offensively the last two or three seasons and is still owed $26 million over the next two years. Reynolds was pushed off the position in 2020 by an old friend in Anthony Alford, until Alford got injured. Reynolds comes with five years of control and had a very good 2019 before falling off in the shortened 2020 season. Between not being a full time centre fielder and his down season with the bat, I’m not sure Reynolds is a good fit, and that goes for the other two as well.
The second group consists of two players that may not be much of a defensive upgrade over Grichuk in centre, but are definitely offensive upgrades, and one player that is certainly a defensive upgrade while not adding much with the bat. Those players in question are Brandon Nimmo of the Mets, Ian Happ of the Cubs and Harrison Bader from the Cardinals. Bader and Happ both come with three years of arbitration control and Nimmo comes with two years of control.
Nimmo and Happ, however, have similar surplus value and would cost more in a trade than Bader would, but only Bader would really improve the defence. A package for either Happ or Nimmo would most likely start with one of Alejandro Kirk or Orelvis Martinez, a starting price I am not sure I would be willing to pay based on their defence. Gabriel Moreno or Alek Manoah would probably get the conversation started as well, add a Trent Thornton or Anthony Kay plus another asset and maybe you could either GM to listen.
Maybe the Mets will be more motivated to sell Nimmo if they happen to sign George Springer. Perhaps the Cubs could be convinced to package Happ with Willson Contreras, I would be a lot more inclined to put Orelvis Martinez into a package if it included two seasons Contreras. Maybe a package of Martinez and Danny Jansen gets it done.