For the first time in a long time, the Blue Jays don't have any 'untouchable' pieces in trade talks

”The blame lies on the construction of the team.”
Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox / Brian Fluharty/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

When you’ve lost seven games in a row to fall 16.0 back in your division - and 7.5 games back in the Wild Card standings; when your playoff odds have declined to a mere 3.8 percent; and, when your highest paid player is no longer a competitive Major Leaguer, what would you do if you were “compromising” on baseball operations decisions in the Toronto Blue Jays front office?

Unfortunately for Blue Jays fans, it looks like nothing short of a major retool will stem the bleeding from this lost 2024 season. Let’s recap the last few days: their top hitting prospect, 22-year-old Orelvis Martinez, was suspended for 80-games by MLB for violating their performance enhancing drug policy. That removes their top talent who could've been used in a trade at the July 30 deadline to improve this ball club with a difference making player.

George Springer, their highest paid player, at an AAV of $25M for the next 2.5 seasons, has fallen off a proverbial cliff. Monday night in Boston, he had another “0-fer” with no hits in four at-bats. He left two runners on in scoring position with two outs, and he grounded into his 10th double play of the season, which ties him for 11th in MLB on a team that is tied for the third most rally killing GIDPs in baseball with 66.

At .559, Springer has the lowest OPS of the 147 qualified players in MLB season-to-date. Ten MLB players have a higher slugging percentage than Springer’s OPS. His OPS+ is 62, which means he’s 38% worse than MLB average. His weighted runs created (wRC) is 22, which puts him 35% below MLB average… at age 34, the Blue Jays are committed to paying him another ~$63M through the 2026 season.

Blue Jays have no ‘untouchable’ pieces in trade talks

Let’s face it, this 2024 edition of the Blue Jays is an old, unlikable team that can’t score runs, can’t close out ball games late when they’re leading, and very likely is already out of the playoff race given a patchwork bullpen and a misfiring offence. That’s a recipe for a retool.

Sure Daulton Varsho was playing like an All-Star prior to his back seizing. Yes, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. can still hit 471-foot home runs right out of MLB ballparks. Of course Spencer Horwitz has been a revelation, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa has exceeded expectations, but the team is 35-43 and dead last in the AL East. The top teams in the mighty East, the Yankees and the Orioles, have both scored almost 100 runs more than Toronto this season.

We just saw the future this past weekend in Cleveland, with two franchises headed in polar opposite directions: one atop their division with the youngest roster in MLB (including the top pick in next month’s MLB amateur draft), that’s hungry for wins and only has a $100M 26-man payroll; the other, an old, $223.5M roster that’s a flatulent train wreck, headed for a likely retool after falling way down in the Wild Card race.

As per Jeff Blair of Sportsnet 590 The FAN, “The blame lies on the construction of the team". And despite Atkins’s protestations in saying the possibility of trading core players Bo Bichette and Guerrero, "Just doesn't make sense", let’s not forget that Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo made the same noises about not trading superstar Juan Soto ahead of the 2022 trade deadline. He then dealt Soto for five of San Diego’s top prospects. Those kids — in ace MacKenzie Gore and shortstop CJ Abrams — have helped position the rebuilt Nats only 1.5 games back in the NL Wild Card chase.

None of the current 26-man roster is ‘untouchable’ in trade talks. Pending free agents, including Yusei Kikuchi, Yimi Garcia, Trevor Richards, Danny Jansen, Kevin Kiermaier and Justin Turner are likely the first players on the block.

However, 1.5 years of team control, and two potential playoff runs make Chris Bassitt, Bichette, Guerrero, Chad Green and IKF all valuable in trades as well. Ace Kevin Gausman would come with 2.5 years of control through the 2026 season at a reasonable AAV of $22M. Springer’s contract is untradeable.

The bottom 3rd ranked farm system has no untouchable prospects, not even the oft-injured Ricky Tiedemann. That ranking will fall further in the post-trade deadline updates given the Martinez PED suspension, Tiedemann’s continued injury issues, UCL surgeries for top pitching prospects Brandon Barriera and Landen Maroudis, and a bad start to his pro career for top 2023 draft pick Arjun Nimmala.

We’ll have resolutions on all of this in the next 35 days through July 30 trade deadline. The Blue Jays have collapsed, and no help is on the way. Unfortunately, Shapiro and Atkins aren't the right baseball operations people to conduct the retool, but a disinterested ownership group doesn’t seem to care so long as fans keep buying tickets to games, as well as City Connect jerseys and hats.