Top 5 players the Toronto Blue Jays gave up on too soon
By Edward Eng
No. 4: Liam Hendriks
For Liam Hendriks, the Jays actually acquired him twice in a span of one year, once from a waiver claim from the Baltimore Orioles in early 2014, and then again in a trade with the Kansas City Royals in late 2014, after they had traded him to the Royals earlier that summer. In his second short stint with the Jays, Hendriks actually performed admirably to a respectable 2.92 ERA with 71 strikeouts over 64.2 innings pitched.
Despite that production, the Jays were aiming to strengthen their rotation depth by trading Hendriks again, this time to the Oakland Athletics for Jesse Chavez. Chavez’s time with the Jays ultimately turned out to be negligible, but for Hendriks, he has now developed into one of the premium closers in the game. Had the Jays held on to him, he could have potentially formed a two-headed monster with Jordan Romano for the Jays bullpen in closing out games. That could have essentially resembled the magic formed by the duo of Duane Ward and Tom Henke back in the early 1990s in the Jays contending years.
No. 3: Cecil Fielder
Back in the mid-to-late 1980s, the Jays started fielding competitive teams that gave them the chance to make the postseason each year. At the time, the Jays had two strong first basemen in Willie Upshaw and Fred McGriff, with a raw player named Cecil Fielder playing behind them. With the Jays, due to their excess of quality first basemen, he was given mainly part-time duty and had only average production as a result. Fielder eventually left MLB altogether after four years with the Jays and played in Japan for a year, hoping to restart his career. From there, he discovered his power stroke and came back with a vengeance, starting with the Detroit Tigers in 1990.
Fielder became a power-hitting machine, and helped anchor the Tigers' offence, averaging over 35 home runs and 110 RBI consistently per season over the course of six-plus years. The Jays did have some power hitters, such as Joe Carter and Dave Winfield, during the course of those years. However, none of them instilled the fear shown by pitchers the way Fielder did whenever he stepped up to the plate. That intimidation and power factor by Fielder could have really helped the Jays to potentially win more than the two championships that they got in the early 1990s.