Blue Jays recent signing of Marcus Semien warrants a trade

Sep 30, 2020; Oakland, California, USA; Oakland Athletics shortstop Marcus Semien (10) gestures to his family as he rounds the bases on a two run home run against the Chicago White Sox during the second inning at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 30, 2020; Oakland, California, USA; Oakland Athletics shortstop Marcus Semien (10) gestures to his family as he rounds the bases on a two run home run against the Chicago White Sox during the second inning at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /

The Blue Jays recent signings of Marcus Semien and George Springer give the Blue Jays a positional surplus in both the outfield and infield.

As it currently stands, the Blue Jays roster has four outfielders who are all capable starters and quite the log-jammed infield in Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Cavan Biggio, Rowdy Tellez, Marcus Semien and a handful of depth options. Its not always such a bad thing to have a surplus in certain areas of a roster, but the Jays are in a position where the big dollars have already been spent this offseason and in order to improve on what is currently a terrible starting rotation, and they will need to retool through the trade market. After all, pitching is half the equation and despite one of the best positional cores in baseball, the pitching is still a problem that needs to be addressed.

The way I see it, the Marcus Semien signing warrants three different trade scenarios that would bring back three completely different packages.

(1) Blue Jays OF Randal Grichuk to Phillies for PTBNL and cash considerations

This package is more of a salary dump scenario. Presently, the Blue Jays have four outfielders and Randal Grichuk is the odd man out in terms of overall talent and performance trajectory. Having a solid foundation of depth in the OF is definitely good for any team, but it is redundant to pay a guy $10MM who will get limited  at bats due to the DH being taken up by Tellez/Guerrero Jr. and the other three outfield spots largely being manned by Springer/Hernandez/Gurriel Jr.

After signing Semien, it has been reported publicly by Blue Jays insiders that the marquee additions are probably done. With that in mind, it may make the most sense to trade away Grichuk to the Phillies and eat about half his salary. I think fair market value is about $5MM for Grichuk and that would probably be the amount Phils would be willing to pay for his services. That would leave the Blue Jays with $5MM in savings for three years that could be allocated towards high upside pitchers like James Paxton. Obviously he’d cost more than just the $5MM, but those savings could go a long way in negotiations.

Besides Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen, the Phillies have weak OF depth and Grichuk could be the perfect bat to fill that hole and he wouldn’t cost an unreasonable amount.

(2) Blue Jays 1B Rowdy Tellez and 3B Jordan Groshans to Reds for SP Luis Castillo

Let’s say the Blue Jays like Grichuk as a depth bat and wanted to keep him around. In that scenario, there wouldn’t be many at-bats for Tellez. At least with Grichuk, you can plug him in different OF spots, but Tellez is a very one dimensional player and it just doesn’t make sense to keep him around if Grichuk remains on the Jays.

If the Blue Jays saw to it that they’d pay Grichuk $10MM to be a 4th OF, then it’s likely they’d give him many at bats in the DH spot to justify that kind of value. Best case scenario, you’d use Tellez and Grichuk in some sort of unconventional platoon to find them at-bats, but I think that the Jays would be best suited retooling in bigger areas of need.

Pitching is an issue for the Jays right now. Despite the addition of Cy Young finalist Hyun Jin Ryu and some solid trade deadline additions, the Blue Jays rotation still finished 24th in ERA in 2020. On the flip side, the Blue Jays had an elite offence in 2020, ranking 8th in runs per game. George Springer and Marcus Semien should soften any blow to the offence that would ensue by trading a player with the kind of potential that Tellez has. Either way, you can’t give at-bats to every single player in the organization so at a certain point and to a certain degree, it makes sense to make trades.

Rowdy Tellez probably has the most raw power out of any player in the Blue Jays organization not named Vladimir. Jordan Groshans profiles as one of the best 3B in minor league baseball. Given that the Reds have shown that they want to shed salary, these two elite controllable players might be enough to acquire three controllable, arbitration-eligible years of the flame-throwing righty, Luis Castillo. He’d slot nicely into a rotation filled with back end depth but lacking stardom on the front end of the rotation. Castillo is expected to make just $4.2MM this year, so money-wise, all should be kosher in this scenario.

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(3) Blue Jays SP Tanner Roark to Royals for cash considerations

This trade doesn’t have to be done to accommodate anyone whose currently on the roster, but with the $18MM spent on Marcus Semien, the Blue Jays would be wise to save dollars in anyway they can in lesser areas of need to improve on bigger areas of need. Although Tanner Roark, a starter, fills a position of need, he doesn’t fit the profile of what the Jays could use in order to take the next step.

Tanner Roark is a below average pitcher who eats innings. Those are the only two constants with respect to Roark. Besides last year, Roark has been pretty consistent throughout his career, pitching over 150 IP with around a 4.00 ERA in most of his campaigns. Last year he still ate innings but his ERA ballooned to just under 7.00 over an 11 start stretch. I’m not going to pretend like Roark is a genius pitcher, but 2020’s small sample size saw a lot of statistical oddities so I’m pretty confident Roark could get back to his average self.

However, the Jays don’t need Roark’s average self, they need quality starting pitching. Right now, the Jays have about a thousand options to fill the back end of the rotation such as but not limited to Trent Thornton, Ross Stripling, Robbie Ray, Tyler Chatwood and in-house organizational depth. What the Jays don’t have is quality starting pitching besides Hyun Jin Ryu.

Next. Three starters who could solidify the rotation. dark

I think that a rebuilding team like the Royals would eat $3MM or $4MM out of the $12MM owed to Roark simply to eat innings so that their organizational pitching depth could develop in the minors. This seems to fit the bill for the Royals as they recently signed depth arm, Mike Minor to a 2-year, $18MM deal. Even though the Jays would have to eat $8MM in this scenario, it still makes sense as Roark’s role on the Jays has become pretty much obsolete since he was signed in December of 2019. Like the Grichuk trade scenario, the savings could be allocated towards a one or two year deal for a pitcher like Paxton or Taijuan Walker.