With the recent news that the Oakland Athletics are looking to sell off some of their biggest names in an effort to slash payroll, this could be a good sign for the Blue Jays as they head into the offseason with a few question marks on how the roster will shape up next year.
The front office already has a few players in free agency looking for big paydays in Marcus Semien, Robbie Ray, and Steven Matz and each player played a big part in the 2021 season. While the Blue Jays are wanting to bring back these players (as of right now), the competition for their services as well as the potential financial impact on the overall payroll is two hurdles the club will have to overcome.
If Ray and Matz end up leaving this offseason, the Blue Jays could look to free agency in order to improve the rotation but could also trade for a starter. Considering the Athletics are looking to deal, there are three pitchers on the A’s that check off quite a few boxes in Frankie Montas, Sean Manaea, and Chris Bassitt.
Making his debut back in 2015, Montas spent most of the 2016 campaign on the injured list and spent a few seasons being juggled between the minors and the Major Leagues before becoming a full-time starter in 2019. For his career, Montas sports a 3.86 ERA through 102 outings (72 starts) with 469 strikeouts and a 1.306 WHIP. The Dominican product has been a staple in the A’s rotation over the past few years but did miss some time back in 2019 serving an 80 game suspension due to performance-enhancing drugs. Montas did struggle to a 5.60 ERA during last year’s shortened campaign, hopefully a result of the pandemic impacting regularly, but came back strong last year with 32 starts and a 3.37 ERA. He is currently entering his second year of arbitration and is estimated to earn around $5.2 million.
Another young star in the Athletics rotation, left-hander Sean Manaea has also produced solid numbers over the past six seasons. Through 128 starts, the Indiana product sports a 3.86 ERA through 727.0 innings while striking out 641 batters to the tune of a 1.204 WHIP with a 7.9 K/9. Manaea is scheduled to earn approximately $10.2 million this season and will be eligible for free agency next offseason. The left-hander missed almost the entire 2019 campaign after undergoing shoulder surgery but has been pretty healthy for most of his career.
The Oakland Athletics are reportedly looking to slash payroll and the Blue Jays could improve their rotation for next season via trade.
Drafted by the White Sox back in 2011, Chris Bassitt has quietly crafted some pretty impressive stat lines over the past seven years. He underwent Tommy John surgery at the start of the 2016 season and wound up missing the entire campaign while spending half of the 2017 season in the minor leagues. He jumped between the minors and the big leagues during the 2018 campaign but found himself on the Athletics roster and in the rotation since 2019. The right-hander sports a 3.47 ERA through 106 appearances (93 starts) while posting a 2.9 BB/9, 8.2 K/9, and 504 strikeouts in 555.2 innings of work. Bassitt was potentially entering the Cy Young conversation this past year before taking a line drive to the head in mid-August and missing roughly a month after undergoing facial surgery. He is currently in his last year of arbitration and will be eligible for free agency next season, slated to earn approximately $8.8 million.
All three pitchers are intriguing options for the Blue Jays considering the club is looking to improve upon their 2021 campaign and could be losing one or two key members from the rotation. The A’s pitcher’s arbitration evaluations for the upcoming season are fairly reasonable and all three have produced pretty healthy campaigns over the past two seasons.
Considering the Athletics are looking to rebuild along with the productive seasons each pitcher had this past campaign, their prices tags are most likely going to be high and competitive amongst teams from across the league.
The Blue Jays would most likely only be able to acquire one pitcher from the group considering the Athletics will be requiring some significant prospect in return depending on the target. You could dictate the pros and cons between which player the club should go after but overall, all three would be great additions to the roster for one reason or another.
The front office could also expand the trade to try and acquire a pitcher and a position player like Matt Chapman, helping the A’s slash payroll while improving multiple areas on the Jays roster. Those trades obviously cost more in prospect capital but depending on the return, a swap of this magnitude could benefit both parties involved from the A’s rebuilding standpoint and the Blue Jays “win now” mentality.
While the suitor’s list may be long, the Jays have not officially been in connection with the A’s on any potential deal as of the recent announcement. This makes sense considering the GM meetings just began and the potential for a lockout come December 1st, moves may not come in the near future but could be on the horizon if the two sides are looking to trade again. There was no news about the Josh Donaldson trade prior to the deal, making one wonder if lightning has the ability to strike twice on the A’s/Jays trade front.