Toronto Blue Jays: An Intriguing Rotation Solution out of Miami
Some intriguing news broke Monday afternoon as Jon Morosi of MLB Network reported that the Marlins are floating the idea of trading one of their young, controllable starters this offseason. You would have to assume that Miami GM Kim Ng would be looking for an impact position player in return, in order to even out what has been an unbalanced roster over the past couple of seasons. Enter the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Marlins have done a great job acquiring young pitching talent through the draft, international free agency, and by way of trade, landing budding stars such as Sixto Sanchez, Trevor Rogers, Sandy Alcantara, along with others as well. A case can be made that the south Florida-based club has seven arms with multiple years of control that all have the top of the rotation upside.
The Marlins have a wealth of pitching talent, featuring young hurlers that have produced at both the Minor League and Major League levels. The same can not be said for their lineup, like last season, where Miami was in the bottom fifth of the league in batting average, slugging percentage, and total bases. Outside of a handful of surprise performers such as rookie sensation Jazz Chisholm or top prospect Jesus Sanchez, the Marlins don’t appear to have many pieces on the offensive side of the ball that could be built around in years to come.
If a small-market team like the Marlins are going to compete in the NL East, which features big spenders like the Mets, Braves, and Phillies, they’re going to have to find creative ways to add talent to their roster. Moving a proven big-league arm with multiple years of control may be the unique direction they chose to go in. If these rumors are true, Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins needs to at least entertain the idea of dealing from a deep core of position players in order to fill a potential need in the Jays rotation.
If Cy Young finalist Robbie Ray ends up walking in free agency, the Jays are going to have to find a way to replace 193.1 innings of pure dominance, where Ray posted a 2.84 ERA and tallied an absurd 248 punch outs last season. One of the potential trade pieces Morosi mentioned yesterday was Sandy Alcantara, a 25-year-old right-hander with a similar upside to Ray.
Alcantara has quietly become one of the better pitchers in all of baseball. Last season, the Dominican product worked 205.2 innings and posted a very impressive 3.19 ERA, along with a 4.02 strikeout to walk ratio. Alcantara was able to enjoy such a fruitful season thanks to his downright unfair arsenal, which features a sinker in the upper 90’s with an insane 21.5 inches of vertical movement, a power slider with a 38.3 WHIFF%, and a wicked changeup with excellent late action.
The hard-throwing righty isn’t a project like other arms the Jays have acquired in the previous offseason. Alcantara is a bonafide star that has multiple years of success at the big league level, and will still be under team control for three more seasons.
Due to his age, contract status, and production, it will be difficult to pry a valuable asset such as Alcantara out of Miami.
Losing Robbie Ray would be a huge blow to this Blue Jays squad. The Miami Marlins could provide a potential solution with one of their young pitchers.
The Jays may have to part ways with key pieces from last year’s squad like Lourdes Gurriel Jr. or Alejandro Kirk if they’re going to entice Miami to send their ace north of the border. Like Alcantara, Gurriel and Kirk both have multiple years of control, are on cheap contracts, and have constantly produced at a high clip throughout their careers. Though losing talented players offer of their big league roster would be a tough pill to swallow, adding a top of the rotation arm in Alcantara who is only in his first season of arbitration will give the Jays the financial flexibility to spend big in free agency, with the potential to land a few key names on the offensive side of the ball (Marcus Semien) or in the bullpen.
The Blue Jays are spoiled with the depth they have in their outfield and an immense amount of young catching talent at their disposal. I think it makes sense to look to trade from an area of strength in order to fill a potential weakness without breaking the bank from a financial standpoint.
Of course, these are just rumors at this point and there is no guarantee that Miami is looking to move a player like Alcantara. However, next season the Jays are going to need their rotation to produce at a similar level as last year, if they are going to take the next step and crack the playoffs in 2022.
Dealing from a strength and trading players of Gurriel and Kirk’s caliber for multiple years of Alcantara could be a creative way to make sure the rotation doesn’t fall behind and keeps pace with this elite offense next season.