3 Blue Jays prospects that could be used as trade bait at the deadline

Toronto Blue Jays v Minnesota Twins
Toronto Blue Jays v Minnesota Twins / Brace Hemmelgarn/GettyImages

It is without a doubt that the Blue Jays are the talk of the American League East this year. A few new additions to the 40-man roster, some luxury renovations to the Rogers Centre, and some new ticket offers has Blue Jays nation excited for 2023.

As hyped as we are for the 2023 season, there is unfinished business in the AL East and in Toronto. We all recall the wild card meltdown the Blue Jays experienced last year against the Seattle Mariners; this wound is fresh and needless to say this can’t occur again. The Blue Jays are one of two favorites to come out on top of the AL East and the organization has shown its commitment to adhere to that thought. The New York Yankees made their offseason moves and the Blue Jays answered back with their own. As the divisional dogfight continues, what might the Blue Jays consider offering up to ensure they are heavily armed for a pennant race?

The Blue Jays could deal top prospects at the 2023 trade deadline to push contention

We’ve seen the deals over the years and some significant moves this offseason regarding the Blue Jays moving prospects. Moves included outfielder Chavez Young being shipped to the Pittsburgh Pirates, former 15th ranked prospect Samad Taylor being sent to Kansas City in mid-2022 and - at the extreme end - the Jays sent top catching prospect Gabriel Moreno to the Arizona Diamondbacks for outfielder Daulton Varsho.

It is clear that this may be the year to push for a pennant. After a Wild Card downfall, healing injuries, an improved roster, and an early injured list Yankees team, this may be the window for the Blue Jays to hit the contention gas pedal. What might this cost them at the trade deadline?

Let’s start with right-handed pitcher Yosver Zulueta. The Cuban righty currently pitches for the Buffalo Bisons Triple-A affiliate and is ranked third of the top 30 Blue Jays prospects. Zulueta leads his repertoire with a well-commanded fastball that touches up to 99mph and has potential to surpass that. His control is remarkable and his off-speed options are very workable from a developmental standpoint. Zulueta holds much value for the Blue Jays and would be one of the first three to be dealt at the deadline. If the right deal comes along, his inclusion may be a necessary one.

Another prospect that could be used as bait in the trade deadline is infielder Orelvis Martinez. Martinez will start the season in Triple-A Buffalo and is also expected to make his way to the big squad at some point in 2023. He is in a developmental process but scouts understand that once he finds it, he will produce to their expectations. He has tools along with projection to be an above-satisfactory offensive third baseman. His aggressiveness at the plate has shown a forgettable stat; his strikeout-to-walk ratio, which was 140-40 last year. That being said, evaluators will hold his 30 home runs and 76 RBI to a higher consideration. This year's spring games have showcased Martinez well as he has seven RBI, two home runs over 21 at-bats, and a .333 batting average. Without question, Martinez could be a future contributor for Toronto, but could also serve as a potential trade chip, especially with the presence of Addison Barger above him on the depth chart.

Barger would have been a key to the trade deadline due to the rise in his stock following a solid spring training showing. Barger has built value in Toronto and the club may look to him as a potential replacement for Matt Chapman if Chappy moves on in free agency. For now, Barger seems to be more of a building block than a trade chip.

We’ve seen over the years that the Blue Jays were not afraid to gamble their high-ranking farm system arms in the market for sought-out pieces. In this case, Ricky Tiedemann and Brandon Barriera will likely stay put, but another quick riser could be in the mix for a mid-season deal. RHP Hayden Juenger could be the third guy to move. Juenger was drafted by the Blue Jays in the sixth round of the 2021 MLB draft and climbed from High-A to Triple-A in a year. In 2022, Juenger rang the bell for Major League attention, going 88.2 innings with 100 strikeouts, 37 walks, a 1.128 WHIP, and a developing 3.76 ERA. His tools as a pitcher are strong, with a 60-grade fastball surrounded by workable off-speed. He's another potential future contributor for the Jays but if he is the final piece to a big trade around deadline, Ross Atkins and Co. will not think twice.

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