Blue Jays – Trade deadline speculation and revisiting the value of potential trade chips

Photo credit:Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
Evan Stack
21 days ago
To sell or not to sell, that is the (Blue Jays) question.
After an abysmal sweep at the hands of the Boston Red Sox, the Toronto Blue Jays are 35-39 and last place in the AL East. They are 14.5 games back of the AL East lead, 5.5 games back of a Wild Card spot, and have a run differential of -40 that ranks 11th in the American League. It appears as if they’re closer to selling than they are to buying, and Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet gave his opinion on Thursday afternoon on what pieces are at the forefront of potentially being sold.
Ultimately, BNS laid out the most productive route to re-tool. Furthermore, this is becoming more and more the route that the Blue Jays need to take. Let’s take an updated look at Toronto’s tradable pieces, as well as how the rest of the league’s needs have surfaced.
Take a look at the current list of established contenders in the MLB. How many of them need pitching? The Dodgers just lost Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Walker Buehler to injury within a matter of days. Baltimore just lost Kyle Bradish to Tommy John surgery shortly after starters Tyler Wells, John Means, and reliever Danny Coulombe fell victim to elbow procedures. The Brewers and Guardians, amongst other teams, will also be searching for starting pitching near the trade deadline, but you get the idea.
A middle- or top-of-the-rotation arm and high-leverage relievers are seemingly always in demand at each year’s trade deadline, and the Blue Jays have some to offer this year. Yusei Kikuchi would be the most ideal starter to move at the deadline given his 3-year, $36 million deal expires at the conclusion of this season. Kikuchi has gotten better as the seasons have gone by; he was relegated to the bullpen at the end of the 2022 season and needed to earn his spot in the 2023 rotation going into Spring Training. Not only did he have a great ’23 season, he has been solid this year as well. Through 15 starts this season, Kikuchi has posted a 3.65 ERA, 1.254 WHIP, 9.2 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, and a 1.2 HR/9, with four of those five figures currently serving as career-bests.
Yimi García, another pending free agent, had immense value to start the year, but he’s scuffled of late and is also currently on the IL with right elbow ulnar neuritis. Garcia allowed only one run through his first 18 outings, becoming one of the best high leverage arms in the league. However, prior to his injury, he posted a 7.50 ERA through six June outings, inflating his numbers a bit from his exemplary start. All in all, Garcia has pitched to a 2.57 ERA, 0.786 WHIP, and 11.3 K/9 – still very, very good. MRI’s on his elbow didn’t reveal any structural damage, but it was still worth an IL stint. The status of his elbow will undoubtedly be a talking point in any potential trade conversations, but a track record and dominant 2024 numbers are still nothing to scoff at.
Chad Green has a 2025 club option, but he is another high-leverage reliever that Toronto could move this season. Green has posted a 1.72 ERA and 0.894 WHIP through 16 appearances this season. He did spend a brief amount of time on the Injured List due to a right teres major muscle strain, but he hasn’t shown any signs of that still being a problem since his return. Both Green and Garcia have numerous postseason appearances under their belt, only adding to their value.
There’s no guarantee that contenders will go “chalk” and only ask about pending free agents; someone could always go out of the box and inquire about Chris Bassitt’s or Jordan Romano’s availability. Both Romano and Bassitt will be free agents at the conclusion of the 2025 season, and Romano has already been linked to the Baltimore Orioles’ list potential reliever targets. Nonetheless, between Kikuchi, Green, and Garcia, the Blue Jays have valuable arms that could
Now to the offensive side of the conversation, where things get a little more interesting considering this is where the Blue Jays have underperformed the most. Danny Jansen, a free agent at the conclusion of this season, is probably the most intriguing of the bunch. Jansen will be the first member of Toronto’s homegrown core to hit free agency, and there are differing opinions on whether Jansen should return. Keeping Jansen could benefit the team in many ways; while health has been a problem, his per-162 power numbers have been very good, and (at least from the viewer’s eye) his rapport with the pitching staff is something you can’t pin a number on.
Jansen is slashing .241/.329/.428 with 5 homers and 16 RBIs through 44 games this season. His June numbers have dampened what was a strong start for Jansen, and it’s earned him some regular at-bats in the second spot in the batting order. I tend to lean toward trying to keep Jansen, but if the price is right, someone in a pull-friendly ballpark may be willing to toss Toronto a nice return.
Justin Turner and Kevin Kiermaier are a two veterans on one-year deals, but their repertoires are entirely different. Turner was Toronto’s best bat in April, but after watching his production take a dip in May, he’s regained some of his prowess in June. On the season, Turner is slashing .238/.331/.371 with 5 home runs, 22 RBIs, and 13 doubles through 64 games. The 39-year-old boasts nine years of playoff experience from his time with the Dodgers, and if he’s able to ramp his production back up, his value will only grow. Look at his year-over-year stats, the dude just hits.
Kiermaier, on the other hand, has been a frustrating watch for many Jays fans this season. His slash line of .192/.243/.300 won’t have contenders calling for his bat, but he still has some value in the outfield. He may be best suited as a fourth outfielder and/or end-of-game defensive substitution, and given how elite he’s been in his career out in centrefield, that could be worth something to a team. No one would sigh about having to put Kiermaier in centrefield for the 8th and 9th innings of a playoff game.
Although not on an expiring deal, George Springer may make sense to at least shop around. Slashing .197/.288/.291 on the season, Springer’s production has declined each season he’s been a Blue Jay. He comes with some baggage – some $25 million per year baggage, to be exact – so any trade won’t exactly warrant a pretty return for the Jays. But facing the fact that this contract isn’t working out, eating some cash, and getting something back for Springer may be the way to go instead of playing this entire contract out and taking at-bats away from Toronto’s current wave of MLB-ready prospects.
Finally, the pending free agency of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette are going to continue to be one of the biggest storylines, if not the biggest, for this franchise going forward. Diving into the arguments for or against re-signing them would call for a separate article, but there’s no downplaying this: the decisions made for these two players will arguably be the biggest decisions for this front office since Ross Atkins took over in Toronto. The options are out on the table; they need to hit the nail on the head with any trade that they make, or build a competitive team and coaching staff around one or both of them, as they are the faces of this organization.
If the Blue Jays aren’t going to make up any ground in the playoff picture, re-tooling by moving some or all of the above players (not Guerrero Jr. or Bichette) is their best opportunity to salvage something out of this season. Obtaining pieces for their farm system or MLB-ready talent would be a good starting point, especially since their farm has been ranked in the bottom third of the league per multiple sources.
For the sake of the fan base and the current roster, they can’t sit in mediocrity.

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