While the offseason is currently on hiatus due to the lockout and no timetable for its return, the hot stove has effectively been turned off and the rumour mill is pretty much at a standstill. For Blue Jays fans who were excited about the flurry of activity before the CBA expired, we all now have to wait patiently until the new agreement is in place before any transactions can take place again. Considering a potential deal isn’t likely to be signed until the new year, one can expect a flurry of activity once the floodgates are open again.
Even after the signings of Yimi Garcia and Kevin Gausman, the Blue Jays roster could still use a few pieces to fill out some of the weaker areas on the team. The bullpen could use another arm or two, another veteran starter wouldn’t hurt to fill out the rotation, and a third baseman could go a long way to completing the infield. The Jays do have Santiago Espinal, Cavan Biggio, and Kevin Smith who could take on the hot corner but considering the club’s target during the 2021 trade deadline, it is safe to say that fans have their sights set on one player: Jose Ramirez.
Now, those who read Jays Journal articles on a frequent basis know that this is a subject we have covered quite a bit and with good reason. Ramirez is a fantastic player who is on a team-friendly contract, owed only $26 million over the next two seasons on team options before being eligible for free agency. A switch hitter, Ramirez is a career .278/.354/.501 with a .855 OPS and is always a threat to hit the long ball, contributing 20+ home run seasons in five different seasons since becoming a regular player for the Cleveland Guardians back in 2015. He also plays third base and owns an18 bDRS and a .963% fielding percentage through 673 games at the position, proving that he plays on both sides of the ball. It should be noted that a majority of his bDRS was gained last season as well (10), which could translate to him being more on the up when it comes to fielding ability.
With the Blue Jays window of playoff opportunity wide open, it is time to consider trading a top prospect to land Jose Ramirez from the Guardians.
Acquiring Ramirez will be no easy feat, especially since the asking price is going to be astronomical. The Blue Jays tried to acquire him at the trade deadline last season but no deal ever materialized. Cleveland has liked Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in the past and he could be an intriguing centerpiece to a potential trade but more is going to be needed to get a deal done. The club could throw in Alejandro Kirk to try and sweeten the pot but I would think the Guardians are wanting some prospect depth included in the mix, which is probably the biggest hold-up in the conversation.
I will say right off the bat that Gabriel Moreno is untouchable. He is not going anywhere and with good reason.
Next on the list would be either Orelvis Martinez or Jordan Groshans, both middle infield players who have some experience playing third base as well. Groshans is closer to making a Major League debut but Martinez arguably has more upside, noted by the fact that multiple clubs inquired about his availability at the trade deadline but the front office was unwilling to part with him.
I will admit I have been hesitant to include Martinez in any deal in the past considering he looks to be a very talented prospect with a lot of upside to being a potential everyday MLB player. These types of deals have a chance to backfire down the road, especially if Ramirez for some reason forgets his bat in Cleveland and Martinez turns into a megastar for Cleveland when he reaches the big leagues.
The truth is this however: Ramirez is the type of player that can take the Blue Jays to the next level. He is that talented. Adding him to a lineup already featuring Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Teoscar Hernandez, and George Springer would almost seem downright unfair for opposing pitchers. It also certainly helps replace the loss of Marcus Semien as well. While trading a top prospect would be risky, it might be the necessary move if the club wants to dethrone the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East.
The biggest hurdles standing in the way of any potential deal are this:
- Cleveland still has to be willing to trade him, a stance they have seemed to transition towards considering they have rebranded into the Guardians this offseason
- Meeting the high asking price set by the Guardians
- Acknowledging that key players like Gurriel, Kirk, or Martinez may need to be included to get this deal done, as there is a reason JRam will not come cheap
Fans may be a little more reluctant to trade some of these players, especially those that are followers of the farm system, but having two seasons of Ramirez with a Blue Jays squad that looks poised to be playoff contenders is the type of move that takes the club from potentially playing in the Wild Card to first in the AL East. They would still need to add some bullpen arms and maybe another rotation asset, but Ramirez contributes a long way to creating one of the most dangerous lineups in the league.
Parting with a top prospect like Martinez or Groshans would be a tough pill to swallow but one that may be necessary if the club is looking to compete for the World Series trophy over the next two seasons. Strike while the iron is hot, as this may be the Blue Jays best chance of competing for the playoffs over the next decade and it should not go to waste.