Let’s get this out of the way
A few months ago when I considered the same question of which Blue Jays could end up on the trade block, I would have included Lourdes Gurriel Jr. on that list. After the way he finished the 2021 campaign, I no longer believe there’s any chance he’ll be dealt.
As I looked at the rest of the MLB roster that should be coming back for next season, there were really only two more names I could come up with for number five, so I decided to take a different approach here. This time I’m saying these two players won’t be traded, even if you’ll see their names come up on social media over the offseason.
The first one is quick and dirty. A few days ago MLBTR released their arbitration projections and had Ross Stripling at 4.4 million. I saw several posts that read stuff like “may as well trade him” or even a couple fans that felt that was too much to pay. I can’t understand that line of thinking at all, and I can see an important role for Stripling next season. Whether that’s as a long-man in the bullpen, insurance for Nate Pearson, or even to make some spot starts to give Hyun Jin Ryu an occasional rest, Stripling’s versatility could easily prove worth his projected salary, and then some. If he ends up as a successful full-time member of the rotation, that could be a bargain.
Secondly, I want to throw water on the discussion that the Blue Jays should look to trade Hyun Jin Ryu. Yes, he had a disappointing end to the 2021 season and it looked like he tired out down the stretch. It doesn’t help that he’ll be 35 before Opening Day next year either, or that he still has two years and 40 million left on his contract. However, if you look at the big picture Ryu is still a valuable rotation piece, the Blue Jays just need to make sure they utilize him properly in 2022. I realize that’s not ideal, but I’m sure the Jays realized he wouldn’t be their ace forever.
As for the idea of trading him, the only motivation would be to save money and I’m not sure that matters much at all. They have the payroll space to retain guys like Robbie Ray and Marcus Semien if they want to, and Ryu only having two years left on his deal means they can easily manage that in the short term, especially before Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette become really expensive.
Maybe the situation looks different a year from now, but at the moment I would say there’s less than a 5% chance that Ryu is dealt. That’s a number I’ve just pulled out of the air, but it should also illustrate that I just don’t think it’s going to happen, nor do I think anyone should hope for such a thing either. The Blue Jays can afford to pay Ryu, retain their free agents, and add more, it’s just a matter of if that jives with their long-term strategy.
As I said earlier, I believe that if the Blue Jays are going to end up as major players in the trade market, it likely means that they’ll turn to their prospects and younger players to pull it off. However, that doesn’t mean that the big league roster won’t be in play either, and don’t be surprised if the rumour mill is very busy over the winter. That’s always more fun anyway.