The Toronto Blue Jays currently sit 8.5 games back of the Boston Red Sox in the AL East and four games back of Wild Card spot. After a convincing series win against the Tampa Bay Rays this past weekend, the Blue Jays are heading into the All-Star break with more momentum than what fans were expecting after the rough few weeks the team was struggling through around the start of June.
While general manager Ross Atkins has already made a trade to bolster the bullpen and bench with the likes of RHP Adam Cimber and OF Corey Dickerson, there is still an argument to be made that there is room for improvement, especially with the bullpen and perhaps at third base.
Any trade for an established pitcher/infielder will cost significant prospect capital, and the Blue Jays sit in a strong position when it comes to having prospects who have high potential yet can be dealt due to other high valued prospects in the system.
One player that comes to mind is first baseman, Rowdy Tellez.
The Toronto Blue Jays will need to bolster the roster if they want to be serious contenders for the post-season, with potential assets like Rowdy Tellez down in AAA who could net some serious return either by himself or in a package deal.
Garnering fan favourite status similar to former Blue Jays infielder Justin Smoak, Tellez burst onto the big league scene three years ago as a September call-up and produced fantastic results in a short sample. Through 23 games, the hard-hitting lefty batter slashed .314/.329/.614 with nine doubles, four home runs, and 14 RBI through 70 at-bats. Since his debut back in late 2018, Tellez has accumulated a career .241/.301/.458 slash line with 37 home runs, 99 RBI, and a .759 OPS.
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Tellez has seen his fair share of triumphs and struggles in the major leagues, with a demotion to AAA in 2019 and in 2021 due to performance and a fantastic 2020 campaign cut short due to a fluke knee injury he suffered tripping over the bullpen mound in Buffalo. He is currently with the Buffalo Bisons after being demoted on June 22, slashing .209/.272/.338 through 139 at-bats this season with four home runs and eight RBI.
The obvious plus about Tellez is the raw power he generates from the left side of the plate, in that any solid contact with the ball can easily see him rounding the bases and putting runs on the board. However, consistency at the palte has been his kryptonite, and with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. performing great at first base this year and quartet of outfielders splitting time between position play and designated hitter, Tellez wasn’t hitting well enough to stay on the roster.
Ultimately, it seems like Tellez would do better if he received regular playing time, something that isn’t likely to happen on the current Blue Jays roster. This brings up the possibility of potentially dangling him in potential trade scenarios, either by himself or packaged alongside another prospect or two to drive up the value and acquire either a high valued arm (hopefully a starter and not a reliever in this case) or a legit third base option.
I could sit here and play arm-chair general manager and list off a dozen potential trades where nobody can agree that the value is correct, the narrative remains the same: if Tellez is not going to get regular playing time at the big league level under the Blue Jays, it makes sense to at least see if there are deals out there to acquire an established arm or a veteran third baseman who could improve the team to be playoff contenders this season.
What makes Tellez even more valuable than he already is that he has yet to hit arbitration, something he will be doing next season, so the three years of control helps drive up his value for any team looking for a first baseman or a lefty-hitting power hitter. In a game where contract control is worth its weight in gold, Tellez could yield some serious return power. I’m not talking about enough value for let’s say a Jose Berrios one-for-one deal, that would be silly, but he alongside another prospect or two could most likely get that paticular deal done (depending on the trade scenario).
Don’t get me wrong, I value Rowdy Tellez and think he will have a good career either as a first baseman or a designated hitter, and trading him will be a risk in the event he could pan out to be a valuable everyday player in the near future. At this point though, he is expendable in that the team has Guerrero Jr. entrenched at first and a platoon of options to back him up defensively as well as be the designated hitter. Risks will need to be taken if the Blue Jays want to head back to the postseason, and trading a player like Tellez fits into that category.
If the Blue Jays are serious about contending this season, everyone is aware that the front office needs to improve some areas on the big league club. While Tellez does have the contract control and the potential, he also possesses trade value, and either packaged with some other prospects or sent alone, Ross Atkins could improve this team by trading him for veteran talent if he can find the right deal as the season inches towards the trade deadline at the end of this month.