Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins inherited a championship contender from Alex Anthopoulos for the 2016 season. However, three years later the Blue Jays are in the midst of a total teardown in hope of rebuilding a new title contending franchise.
In the last two years Blue Jays fans have seen Steve Pearce, J.A. Happ, Seunghwan Oh, Roberto Osuna, Aaron Loup, John Axford, Curtis Granderson, Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin, Kendrys Morales and Kevin Pillar all depart via trade.
Understandably they currently sit 25.5 games out of first place and will undoubtedly continue use their veterans to supplement a young core of future talent. Furthermore, by moving players such as Eric Sogard and Marcus Stroman, opportunities for future impact players like Bo Bichette, Sean Reid-Foley and T.J Zeuch may become more available.
This trade deadline’s most talked of talent, Stroman owns an impressive 141 ERA+ and comes with an extra year of team control. The starter has the second lowest qualifying ERA (3.25) in the AL East which is a by-product of increased use of his improved sinker. A team scout has heralded it as “one of the nastiest worm burners in the game”.
Interest will likely only come from genuine contenders due to the certain high valuation the Jays will hold out for. The Milwaukee Brewers who rank 26th in pitching WAR should be considered an obvious fit however, they will likely first pursue a bat to supplement the workload of Mike Moustakas and Christian Yelich.
Clear favourites would have to be the New York Yankees whose general manager Brian Cashman has signalled his desire to add another starter. Stroman, familiar with the AL East has stoked rumours by responding to reporters with this quote: “I’m built for (Yankee Stadium). Anybody can say whatever, but I’m built for the bright lights and the moment. I’m not scared of it. I’ll never be. I love it.”
Furthermore, the Atlanta Braves have been tipped by insiders to have the best chance at landing the right hander. They may need another starter to complement Mike Soroka and Dallas Keuchel in a very competitive division. They have ample trade chips with Kyle Wright, Ian Anderson, Luiz Gohara, Touki Toussaint and Kolby Allard all potentially available.
Outside chance: the Cardinals who rank 25th in pitching WAR, should also be considered a viable destination.
The Blue Jays’ first baseman has featured in a number of trade deadline previews however, teams may have certain reservations regarding the one time All Star. Although Smoak owns a .372 OBP and .868 OPS versus right-handed pitching, he has really struggled in recent weeks and has also hit an uncompetitive .185 from the right side.
Therefore, given his impeding free agency, Blue Jays’ fans shouldn’t expected their first baseman to command a significant return. Colorado may be interested in a platoon with right-handed Mark Reynolds and Boston may have at bats available. The AL East rivals have struggled to find production at first base with both Mitch Moreland and Steve Pearce having been missed from the lineup since June.
Outside chance: Cleveland and Tampa both rank in below average in production at the DH position which could provide at bat opportunities to Smoak.
The Blue Jays’ super utility man is certainly one of the finds of the season having signed a minor league deal in the offseason due to his abysmal 2018 campaign. He has hit .296 with a career high 10 HRs and a .853 OPS.
Sogard also can play multiple positions across the infield and outfield. His .365 OBP will also be attractive to a number of contenders. The Brewers who have struggled at second base this year, recently demoting Orlando Arcia, are unlikely to leave rookie Keston Hiura as the sole second base option. Furthermore, with Lorenzo Cain’s disappointing season, Sogard could be used as a useful leadoff hitter.
Another landing spot could be Cleveland where Jason Kipnis, and until recently Jose Ramirez have produced at below average levels. With Sogard’s ability to man outfield positions, Cleveland may want to rely less on Leonys Martin and Jake Bauers who have combined for a -0.7 WAR.
The Jays likely have two arms in their bullpen that they will be able to move. Daniel Hudson has had his best season since 2010 posting a 5-1 2.85 ERA with 41 Ks in 41 innings.
In his last 30 appearances he owns an impeccable 2.14 ERA. Giles is even more attractive if he can demonstrate good health during this next week. His 1.45 ERA, converting 13 or 14 save opportunities with a 1.000 WHIP could be seen as a good fit for teams such as the Cubs, Braves and Cardinals. The Cubs have seen Craig Kimbrel and Pedro Strop struggle while the Braves and Cardinals have lost Arodys Vizcaino and Jordan Hicks to season ending surgeries.
Hudson could also be an option for the aforementioned teams however, Minnesota, Red Sox and Phillies may also look to add bullpen depth. As both players are in the final year of contract, all contenders should be able to afford either player.