There are a number of ways the Blue Jays could improve the roster over the winter, but they may not be able to count on the trade market for much.
I know, you don’t really want to hear that when there are so many fans already talking about the possibilities, such as renewing interest in a star infielder like Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez. That said, players like Ramirez could be few and far between, and there are two major reasons why the Blue Jays may not be able to rely on making a big trade to solve any of their own roster issues.
To start with, the trade market could be really limited this offseason. As I scan Major League Baseball and look at which rosters could be ready for a shakeup, the list isn’t very long. You could probably put Cleveland on that list, although there are no guarantees there given the back and forth behaviour they’ve displayed in recent years. There could be other teams like the Oakland A’s, or possibly others like the Cincinnati Reds, but neither of those two are guaranteed sellers either after relatively competitive 2021 seasons.
The way the next Collective Bargaining Agreement works out could have a significant impact on how teams operate this winter, but I don’t think it will change the trade market all that much either way. That’s not to say that there won’t be a few teams putting their stars on the trade market, but I don’t think the list will be very long, and there should be a lot of suitors for any quality players that become available.
The second significant point I’d like to make about the potential trade market is how much more limited it could be when you zero in on needs. The Blue Jays only need a certain kind of help. Yes they could upgrade several spots, but really they’re looking for either a 2nd baseman or a 3rd baseman, and pitching help for the rotation and also in the bullpen. What happens with Robbie Ray and/or Marcus Semien will greatly impact the roster needs, but they’ll have to address the bullpen either way, and possibly replace one of the stars of their 2021 team.
Hypothetically, let’s say the Blue Jays are able to re-sign Robbie Ray, but Marcus Semien ends up signing somewhere else. Ross Atkins and the front office team could look to free agency to fill that hole, but they may prefer to work with the trade market instead. The problem is, there won’t be a long list of high-end players available, and the Jays won’t be the only team bidding for their services. That list could include the lists of Ramirez from Cleveland, maybe a guy like Matt Chapman from the A’s, perhaps the Royals finally trade Whit Merrifield, or possibly a star like Ketel Marte could be pried away from the Diamondbacks at the right price. However, that type of list is very much a “best case scenario” trade market, and it’s possible that none of those players end up being traded.
While the Blue Jays could have some solid trade chips to work with this offseason, it remains to be seen if the right opportunity will come up. My guess is Atkins and company will be active on all fronts, but may have to utilize free agency more than usual.