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What Can We Learn About the Jays’ Place In the Market From the First Real Trade Of the Off-Season?

The offseason has been moving quite slowly so far — something we can thank Shohei Otani, Giancarlo Stanton, and perhaps Scott Boras for (all three are mentioned in Ben Nicholson-Smith’s excellent piece on the subject for Sportsnet). But on Wednesday evening, based on groundwork laid at this week’s GM Meetings, somebody (Jerry DiPoto, naturally) actually made a trade!

To wit:

This is an interesting one — and one that is worth considering for Blue Jays fans, because it seems here that DiPoto has dealt from a pretty similar pool as Ross Atkins will be trying to deal from. And from it he got Ryon Healy.

Uhh… is that good? I’m not so sure. But there are definitely things to like about Healy, namely his power. MLBTR explains that “the 25-year-old has belted 38 home runs through his first 888 plate appearances (221 games) with the A’s from the 2016-17 seasons. Healy hasn’t shown much plate discipline to go along with that pop (3.9 percent walk rate), but his overall .282/.313/.475 batting line is solid — especially considering the fact that he’s played half of his games in the spacious Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.” They also note that he still has five years of team control left.

Obviously he’s not the type of player that the Blue Jays would be interested in at this point, given that Healy looks mostly like a first baseman (even though he’s spent more time in his big league career at third, which… hmmm… didn’t the A’s used to have a much better third baseman?), but there’s value there. An everyday player. Sure, WAR doesn’t like him very much because of his defence, but still, a younger player who was a league average bat last season, and better (138 wRC+) in half a season the year before isn’t nothing. Personally, I’m not super into players who are all power, strikeouts, and don’t take walks (though at this point in MLB history, I suppose Healy’s 23% strikeout rate is pretty average), but I could imagine a player of comparable value fitting a need for the Jays — a backup infielder, catcher, or another piece of the outfield puzzle, for example.

So what did it cost to get Healy? This, I think, is the encouraging bit.

According to MLB Pipeline, Campos is now Oakland’s 29th best prospect. The big prize, then, is Pagan, who was one of the Mariners’ better relievers last season.

Now, there maybe isn’t a perfect parallel between Pagan and any of the Jays’ crop of potentially available relievers — in part because Pagan still has six years of team control left (he ended 2017 two days short of a full year’s worth of service), and in part because he was a multi-inning reliever primarily last year, throwing 50 innings in just 34 big league appearances — but there are several who might be valued similarly.

Pagan struk out 56 and walked just eight over 50.1 innings in 2017, and was worth 0.8 WAR per FanGraphs. None of the Jays relievers were quite so stingy with the free passes, but they had Dominic Leone with 83Ks in 70.1 innings (23 BB, 1.5 WAR), and Ryan Tepera, who struck out 81 in 77.2 innings (31 BB, 1.0 WAR). A notch below was Danny Barnes, who struck out 62 in 66 innings (24 BB). And with a little less big league experience, you’ve got Carlos Ramirez, with 14 Ks in 16 innings with three walks, and Tim Mayza, who struck out 27 and walked just four in 17 innings.

Those numbers don’t tell the whole story, but those are some pretty comparable pieces. Sure, Leone and Tepera are both above two years of service, and Barnes is above a year, but in the right situation — in a situation where a team has a surplus that fits and a need that fits — these can certainly be the pieces that the Jays look to use in order to fill some of the needs of their roster, in much the way that the Mariners have here. And based on everything we’ve heard Ross Atkins say over the last several weeks, I would be very surprised if they didn’t.

As Joshua Howsam wrote in a great piece this week for BP Toronto, this is setting up to be Atkins’ most active off-season yet. Are we in for another winter of Transaction Fridays? I wouldn’t bet against it. I guess we’ll see what tomorrow brings!