The Toronto Blue Jays just signed left-hander Yusei Kikuchi to a three-year $36 million dollar deal. I believe they made the wrong choice on the arm, but the right choice in signing an arm to fill out the rotation.
The Jays have one of the best rotations in all of baseball with Kikuchi, Kevin Gausman, Jose Berrios, Alek Manoah, and Hyun-Jin Ryu as the five starters. The best part about the rotation is that they are all locked up for multiple years.
Gausman just signed a five-year deal with the Jays, Berrios signed a seven-year extension, Ryu has two years of control and Manoah has six years of team control after his rookie season in 2021. With that in mind, the Jays have a dilemma on their hands.
One of the organization’s top prospects for a while now has been Nate Pearson. He can throw 100+ mph fastballs with wicked offspeed stuff, however, he has not had an easy transition at the big league level and cannot seem to stay healthy. Since the Jays already have their rotation locked up for the next couple of seasons, Pearson can either be used in the bullpen or maybe as a part of a trade package.
WIth the Yusei Kikuchi signing official, the Blue Jays should trade for a star infielder with Jose Ramirez at the top of the list.
The Yusei Kikuchi signing signalled one thing to me: the Blue Jays are all in on right now. You don’t give a fifth starter three years $36 million dollars if you don’t think you can win right now. With that in mind, the Jays should make a trade like the Dodgers did for Mookie Betts before eventually winning the World Series.
As the roster is currently constructed, the Jays will have one of the more high-powered offenses in baseball. Yes, they did lose Marcus Semien, but players like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, George Springer, and Teoscar Hernandez are more than capable of carrying the load. They were third in all of baseball in runs scored last season and I expect them to be towards the top again.
With that being said, why not go completely in? Right now, the weakest spot on the roster is third base. Santiago Espinal had a surprisingly good offensive season last year but is that reliable? I’d feel much more comfortable with him in a bench role, potentially splitting time with Cavan Biggio if he struggles again.
Jose Ramirez is the perfect fit for this team. He’s a switch hitter, which is a good thing since the lineup is predominantly right-handed. He’s on very cheap money ($26 million dollars remaining for two seasons). And he’s only 29 years old with the possibility of being extended.
The Blue Jays have so many high valued expendable parts that they can turn into a superstar like Ramirez. Alejandro Kirk is a guy they can move. Jordan Groshans is a guy they can move. A package of Pearson, Kirk, and Groshans probably isn’t enough for a guy like Ramirez but the point is clear: the Jays have the chance to go from a playoff team to the World Series favourites by pulling the trigger on a blockbuster trade.
The Dodgers did it with Betts when they already had a loaded roster. The Nationals did it by signing Patrick Corbin when they already had two expensive aces. Trading a movable commodity like Pearson along with some high-level prospect capital in exchange for a top-10 player like Ramirez seems like a no-brainer to me.