Next to Marcus Stroman, Ken Giles is the most valuable trade chip the Blue Jays have (whom they’re willing to part with, at least). Giles has been a revelation in a Blue Jays uniform ever since they acquired the fireballer closer at last year’s trade deadline.
Removed from the pressure cooker environment in Houston, Giles has thrived in the low-pressure environment in Toronto and rehabilitated his image to the point where he’s no longer viewed as “damaged goods” to prospective teams.
For the second consecutive year, it’s very likely that Giles will be on the move and it’s difficult to imagine him not with another team come July 31st. He’s arguably the most attractive relief arm on the trade market and the Blue Jays should expect a decent return for the 28-year-old.
This year, Giles has struck out 47 batters, walked eight, has four earned runs to his name and owns a sparkling 1.33 ERA in 27 appearances. If a contending team needs a power arm for the back-end of their bullpen, Giles should be their number one target. He isn’t a straight-up rental and he’s been one of baseball’s best relievers dating back to last August.
But what kind of a return can the Blue Jays expect on Giles? Digging back a few years, it’s difficult to find a cut-and-dry precedent of a non-contending team trading a pitcher of Giles’ calibre with one-plus years of control remaining.
Depending on how desperate a team like the St. Louis Cardinals are to replace Jordan Hicks, perhaps the discussion starts at a package surrounding a Top 100 prospect. Here are the latest comparables to give the Jays an idea of what a reasonable ask might be for Giles.
Brad Hand and Adam Cimber to Indians for Francisco Mejia
- (2.5 years left of control on Hand, $14.4 million, 4.5 years left of control on Cimber, $779K)
- Mejia: 26th ranked prospect
The Cleveland Indians paid a king’s ransom to pick up one of the best relief pitchers at the trade deadline last year. In exchange for Brad Hand and Adam Cimber, the Padres received the 26th ranked prospect in Francisco Mejia, but they also gave up four-plus years of control on a pre-arbitration eligible pitcher like Cimber.
The Blue Jays don’t have that kind of package of relievers to put together to net a Top 30 prospect; the closest thing is they could cobble together is sweetening the pot by adding Joe Biagini to Giles, but it’s nowhere near the level of Hand and Cimber.
Andrew Miller to Indians for Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield, Ben Heller, J.P. Feyereisen
- (2.5 years left of control on Miller, $21.1 million)
- Frazier: 15th ranked prospect, Sheffield: 78th ranked prospect
Back in 2016, the Yankees made out like bandits in a pair of trades for their two best relievers, Andrew Miller among them. Yes, the Yankees did a pseudo-sell-off a few years ago and bounced back the following season to make it within one win or the World Series.
New York pulled the ripcord on their season and traded Andrew Miller to the Cleveland Indians. In exchange, they received two Top 100 prospects in the form of Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield, plus two more prospects.
Miller had two-plus years of team control with $21.1 million left on his contract, so the Yankees could afford to increase their asking price of two premium prospects in exchange for one of baseball’s best relievers.
In terms of the echelon of relievers, Miller circa 2016 is in the same realm as Giles this season, so one less year of control would, in theory, halve the asking price for the Blue Jays in Ken Giles. Splitting the difference and scoring a Top 40-ish prospect for Giles seems like a reasonable ask.
Aroldis Chapman to Cubs for Gleyber Torres, Adam Warren, Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford
- (rental for Chapman, $11.325 million left)
- Torres: 17th ranked prospect
Yet again, another trade from the 2016 deadline where the Yankees made out like bandits. Maybe the Cubs were extremely desperate to shore up the back-end of their bullpen, but in retrospect, that was an extremely high price to pay for two-plus months of Aroldis Chapman.
This was a scenario where everything lined up perfectly for the Yankees; they had an extremely motivated buyer in the Cubs and the Yankees received quantity and quality of prospects back in return. Gleyber Torres developed into an All-Star infielder, Adam Warren was a nice bullpen piece for a few seasons, Billy McKinney has some upside as an outfield prospect and Rashad Crawford is weaving his way through the Yankees farm system.
Giles and Chapman have similar fastball-slider repertoires and both guys can throw 100 miles per hour. Giles has more team control now than Chapman did back in 2016. If the planets align and the Blue Jays find a motivated buyer, snagging the next “Gleyber Torres of prospects” isn’t out of the realm.