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Four possible targets for the Blue Jays, a team that looks “poised to make a trade before Opening Day”

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Photo credit:© Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports
Damon
By Damon
1 month ago
“The Toronto Blue Jays have too many infielders!”
If you had a dollar for every time that sentence has been used by Blue Jays fans this winter, you could pay Shohei Ohtani’s contract yourself.
It’s a valid statement, though, especially when you consider the current construction of the team’s 40-man roster. If the season started today, the Blue Jays would have twelve infielders on the 40-man, eight of whom could cover any of 2B/SS/3B.
The locks among infielders to make the team out of Spring Training are Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette, IKF, and Justin Turner. That leaves Santiago Espinal, Spencer Horwitz, Ernie Clement, Davis Schneider, and Leo Jimenez battling for one spot on the major league roster. This doesn’t even factor in Addison Barger, Orelvis Martinez, and Damiano Palmegiani (the latter of which isn’t currently on the 40-man), who will begin the season in Triple-A Buffalo and will likely be knocking on the door for an opportunity quickly.
For the purpose of this exercise, let’s assume Davis Schneider makes the team (which shouldn’t even be a debate, truthfully) that puts Espinal/Horwitz/Jimenez on the outside looking in. As Shi Davidi writes, a wise allocation of resources would be to possibly package a couple of the infielders on the fringes of the roster for a fourth outfielder.
Below I’ll share a few of my personal trade targets to fill that very role.

Austin Slater – San Francisco Giants

Austin Slater is a lefty-mashing, right-handed hitting outfielder who’s in his final season of club control before he can hit the free agent market. His career splits vs left-handed pitching would make him a perfect platoon partner for either Daulton Varsho or Kevin Kiermaier in Toronto’s outfield.
He’s simply a very solid platoon bat and, fit-wise, probably the best option out of the entire group for the Blue Jays. He’s an average fielder in a corner which is perfectly fine considering the Jays will have Varsho or Kiermaier patrolling centre field on any given night. Slater has also historically been a good fastball hitter, something the Blue Jays struggled with during the 2023 season, especially the elevated ones.


The acquisition of Otto Lopez by the Giants makes it trickier to find a fit when it comes to a trade. Espinal for Slater, it would’ve been a seamless deal. However, I think a pathway still exists, even if it’s less likely than it was before.

Alexander Canario – Chicago Cubs

Canario is one of my favourite non-top-100 prospects. It’s a slugger’s profile who may eventually become a DH, but, at the moment, can play a corner outfield spot without killing you.
Canario is firmly power over hit, as he has easy 30+ HR in his profile while likely settling in the .230 range in terms of average. He is blocked from any substantial playing time in the Cubs outfield as guys like Pete Crow-Armstrong, Seiya Suzuki, Ian Happ, and Mike Tauchman are all above him on the depth chart. Christopher Morel is another guy who could see some time in the outfield, as Craig Counsell will likely have him in a super-utility role to keep his powerful bat in the lineup.
Chris Clegg of the Dynasty Dugout has Canario ranked as the Cubs’ #12 prospect. Here’s his breakdown of Canario:
Canario needs a trade in order to free him up to get near everyday at-bats at the big league level, and the Blue Jays should be the team to step up and make that happen.

Blake Perkins – Milwaukee Brewers

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Light-hitting outfielder with elite speed and defence. At first glance, you likely scoff at the idea of adding another one of those types of outfielder. Blake Perkins is an elite outfielder, having posted 7 OAA in just 67 games last season with the Brewers. He accompanies a great first step with 99th percentile sprint speed, which makes him a fantastic centre fielder.
His bat will never be his carrying tool, as he posted a .217/.325/.350 line to go along with an 88 wRC+ and 1.2 fWAR. However, there’s reason to believe he could see a modest uptick in production, and that’s his plate discipline. He carried a 13.7 BB% last season in the majors, which is well above league average.
He’s consistently been putting up well above average walk rates for a few years now which plays up when you have the speed that Perkins does. His wRC+ vs LHP during his cup of coffee with the Brewers in 2023 was 95, and his walk rate jumped to 15.6% against them. If you can get anywhere between a 90-100 wRC+ from Perkins in a strict platoon, you’ll absolutely take it. Because this plays on any team.

Stone Garrett – Washington Nationals

Easily my favourite and top choice amongst this group. Stone Garrett is a bodybuilder playing the sport of baseball, and he mashes.
His 2023 season was cut short when he broke his leg trying to rob a home run during a late August game last season. When he did play, he was really good. He slashed .269/.343/.457 which was good for an OPS of exactly .800. The underlying metrics matched his output as he had well above average exit velocity on balls in play (91.1), his hard-hit percentage of 48.4 ranked in the 83rd percentile, and his sweet-spot percentage came in at 36.7 percent good for 77th percentile output.
On the defensive side he has fringy range to go with a strong arm, which profiles him nicely as a corner outfielder. He’s played the overwhelming majority of his games in left field, and that’s exactly where I’d have him slotting in against left-handed pitching as a Blue Jay. His splits vs LHP in 2023 would put him in the upper echelon amongst Blue Jays hitters.
He does have swing-and-miss issues, but the quality of contact is superb, and his swing decisions improved as the season went on, which further brightens his future outlook.

ARTICLE PRESENTED BY BETANO

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