Blue Jays: Looking back at the first 18 months of the Ross Atkins Era in Toronto

Baltimore Orioles v Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles v Toronto Blue Jays / Cole Burston/GettyImages
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The Drew Hutchison Trade and Follow-Up

Going into his first trade deadline, Atkins was looking to improve the team who, for the second straight season, were competing for the AL East title.  Blue Jays traded 25-year old Drew Hutchison who had showed some promise early in his career, however he had spent most of the 2016 season in Triple-A Buffalo.  What the Blue Jays got back was veteran starter Francisco Liriano, along with outfield prospect Harold Ramírez and catching prospect Reese McGuire.

Had the Blue Jays traded Hutchison straight up for Liriano the deal would have been a win, even with the club picking up all of Liriano’s contract through 2017.  Liriano would make eight starts down the stretch and two relief appearances where he posted a 2.92 ERA over 49.1 innings and retired all five batters he faced in extra innings during the American League Wild Card game.  Everybody remembers Edwin Encarnación’s walk off home run from that game, but it is rare to find someone who knows that Liriano collected the win, by forcing four ground ball outs and striking out Nolan Reimold to put Encarnacion in that situation. 

While Ramírez never made it all to the way to the Major Leagues for the Blue Jays, McGuire would serve as a depth and back-up catcher from 2018-2021 with the club and posted a slash line of .248/.297/.390 over his tenure with the club.

One year after the original trade and with the Blue Jays rebuilding, Atkins flipped Liriano to the Houston Astros in exchange for Nori Aoki and more importantly Teoscar Hernández.  Hernández would go on to play over 600 games with the Blue Jays over six seasons earning two Silver Slugger awards and hitting a combined 129 home runs which currently sits 11th all time in franchise history.

The initial trade is still paying dividends as Atkins has since traded Hernandez this offseason to the Seattle Mariners for Erik Swanson and prospect Adam Macko.