Wins and losses on the field are irrelevant for the Toronto Blue Jays this season. They could lose 85 games, 90 games or even 100 games and it wouldn’t matter very much.
Amid a lost season, the team can look forward to the development of their young players and the return they’ll get for their veterans before the July 31 trade deadline.
In the coming days, the Blue Jays will look to offload many of their core veteran players in an attempt to turn themselves into a contender in the coming years. This franchise is in the process of a full-blown rebuild and most of their veteran players with any sort of value will be traded this year.
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Which players are most likely to be on the move by July 31? These are some of the most likely candidates to land with a new team by the trade deadline.
1. Marcus Stroman (starting pitcher)
Marcus Stroman is arguably the most sought-after starting pitcher on the trade market. The 28-year-old All-Star is having a great season (with a 3.25 ERA in 19 starts) and his value as a trade chip won’t be any higher than it is right now.
Contending teams are always looking to improve their starting pitching for a second-half pennant race and most division leaders would love to have Stroman in their starting rotation. It also helps that he’s under control for the 2020 season, which means he isn’t merely a rental for the final two months of the regular season.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) June 23, 2019
According to Stroman himself, the Blue Jays haven’t approached him about a contract extension and the organization hasn’t confirmed any contract talks, which seems like the right-hander is destined to be traded by the deadline.
Last year, the Blue Jays botched the trade involving their most established starting pitcher, J.A. Happ. They can’t afford to mess up a trade centred around a former top 10 Cy Young finisher in Stroman this time around.
Stroman alone should fetch the Blue Jays a top 100 prospect in return, but if they want to sweeten the pot, they could offer to pay down the remainder of Stroman’s $7.4 million salary (which is roughly $4 million for the rest of the season).
2. Ken Giles (closer)
The Blue Jays are in an extremely enviable position this year because not only do they have one of the most coveted starting pitchers on the market, they also have one of the most appealing closers for sale: Ken Giles.
Just as contenders seek to upgrade their starting pitching, teams love to beef up their bullpen down the stretch for the playoffs. Even if teams already have an established closer, adding some late relief firepower in the form of Giles is enough to make any team salivate.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) June 23, 2019
The fireballer owns the best strikeout rate among American League relievers at 42.2 percent, has only walked 10 batters in 32 innings of work and can ratchet up his fastball to 100 miles per hour.
Giles comes with a “buyer beware” tag because he’s suffered from nerve inflammation the last few weeks and has missed some time out of the bullpen. The Blue Jays are walking the tightrope when it comes to cashing in on Giles, as one stint to the injured list could derail any trade plans.
However, if the Blue Jays’ closer stays healthy the rest of this month, the team should have no problem flipping Giles to another club and bringing back some prospect capital.
3. Daniel Hudson (reliever)
Along with Giles, Hudson is attractive back end of the bullpen option for prospective contending teams. The veteran reliever has a 23% strikeout rate with 42 strikeouts in 39 games with the Blue Jays this season.
On his own, Hudson himself won’t fetch very much, but packaged together with another reliever like Giles or a Blue Jays position player should beef up the return for Toronto.
Last year, the Blue Jays flipped Aaron Loup to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for some starting pitching depth in the form of Jacob Waguespack. Loup had a mediocre first half for the Blue Jays, while Hudson has decent numbers out of the bullpen.
If Toronto can parlay Hudson into some sort of pitching depth again, it would be an incremental gain… considering the Jays inked Hudson for only $1.5 million this season.
4. Eric Sogard (infielder)
Eric Sogard is having a breakout season at the ripe old age of 33. With 10 home runs this year, he’s nearly matched his entire home run output entering the 2019 season (which was 11 home runs in 584 career games).
The Blue Jays signed Sogard to a minor league deal back in late December of 2018, so the club is playing with house money with Sogard’s value heading into the trade deadline.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) June 29, 2019
Typically, a player of his calibre would be a prime August trade candidate, but since MLB moved to only one trade deadline at the end of July, that greatly increases the chances of Sogard being traded to a contending team.
Whatever the Blue Jays receive in return — whether it’s a fringe prospect or cash considerations — should be considered a win.
5. Freddy Galvis (shortstop)
At the moment, Freddy Galvis is the one man preventing the Blue Jays from promoting their highly touted shortstop prospect, Bo Bichette. Galvis is enjoying a career renaissance, but there might only be a handful of teams looking for a starting shortstop.
FREDDY?! HOW?! pic.twitter.com/vWn22IhyOC
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) April 20, 2019
That severely limits the market the Blue Jays have to offload Galvis by the trade deadline. He’s signed to a modest one-year, $4 million deal with a $5.5 million club option for 2020.
If the Blue Jays can find a buyer and are willing to pick up most of Galvis’ salary, they could officially clear the way for Bichette to take over at shortstop. That alone might be the most impactful move the Blue Jays can make in the second half of the 2019 season.