Looking back at Ross Atkins’ Trade Deadlines with the Blue Jays — 2018

Photo credit:Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Liu
9 months ago
The 2018 Toronto Blue Jays season was one of many changes. Perhaps the biggest indicator of the tides shifting was Jose Bautista becoming a free agent, with Toronto moving on from their long-time face of the franchise. It set the tone in what became a frustrating year, where the team found their window slamming shut and having to retool.
Come to the end of July, the Jays were 25.5 games back of the Boston Red Sox for the division lead. So what did their trade deadline look like?
July 25th: Toronto acquires OF Forrest Wall, 1B Chad Spanberger, and RP Bryan Baker from Colorado for RP Seung-Hwan Oh
With the playoffs out of sight, the Blue Jays were ready to sell off some veteran pieces for future prospects. The first domino to fall came in the form of veteran closer Seung-Hwan Oh, who had signed with the team earlier in the year. He was dealt to the Rockies in exchange for two organizational top-30 prospects in Wall and Spanberger, with Baker coming as part of the trade later on as the PTBNL.
Oh continued to perform well in the mile-high city, putting together a 2.53 ERA in 21.1 IP and a 10.1 SO/9 during his 25 appearances for the Rockies. However, the next season saw Oh struggle with injuries, getting lit up for an ERA over 9 and being shut down for shoulder surgery. His cutter’s average speed was 82.2 MPH, the slowest in the majors. Oh returned to Korea after being released in 2019 and is currently pitching for the Samsung Lions.
Spanberger was hitting very well in A ball at the time of the trade, slashing 300/.365/.590 with the Rockies organization. Unfortunately, those numbers declined with the Jays and in 2019, the prospect was dealt to the Brewers in exchange for Chase Anderson. Spanberger last played in the Brewers organization in 2021, batting .204/.289/.384 with 12 homers.
Wall fared a little better than his counterpart, finishing the year with double-A New Hampshire slashing .271/.354/.380 in 35 games. In 2019, he split time between New Hampshire and Buffalo batting .268/.351/.422 with 11 home runs and 45 RBI between the two ball clubs. Wall re-signed for another year with Buffalo in 2021, before opting to join the Mariner’s organization in 2022. Currently, Wall is on the Atlanta Braves’ 40-man roster, making his debut earlier this season.
Baker joined the Jays on August 14th, playing the rest of the year with Dunedin. The next season, he started with New Hampshire before being promoted to Buffalo. Baker was eventually selected to the Jays’ 40-man roster in 2021, making one relief appearance and shutting the side out in his single inning of work. The pitcher was placed on waivers and then claimed by the Orioles on November 8th, where he remains to this day.
July 26th: Toronto acquires 2B Brandon Drury and OF Billy McKinney from New York in exchange for SP J.A. Happ
This one stings a little. It was the right idea to move the 36-year-old Happ at the deadline for younger players, getting as many future assets as they could from an older but good asset. The problem was the return, at the time feeling a little underwhelming given the lack of a true blue-chip prospect. It’s grown even worse as time has gone on with none of the pieces contributing much for the Jays.
Starting with the best player in the trade, Happ continued to pitch well for the Yankees. He closed the year off with a 7-0 record in 11 starts, throwing a 2.69 ERA with a 1.052 WHIP. Though Happ got off to a rocky start in the 2019 campaign, he was able to rebound and still end up being a very solid rotational piece for New York. In the month of September alone, Happ rattled off a 2.00 ERA. He’d make a couple of appearances for the Yankees in 2020, ending up splitting time with Minnesota and St Louis in 2021 before calling it a career in 2022.
Drury only had 8 games with the Jays in 2018 before ending up on the disabled list with a broken hand. He’d play the majority of 2019 with the Blue Jays and struggle mightily. The infielder batted .218/.262/.380 with 14 homers on the year and somehow regressed even further in 2020. Drury went 152/.184/.174 in 49 plate appearances, being DFA’d on September 1st then outrighted on the 4th. He got picked up by the Mets on a minor league deal for the next season, finding his way back into the majors. Somehow, with the Reds in 2022, Drury ended up winning a Silver Slugger, totaling 28 homers while slashing .263/.320/.492 between Cincinnati and San Diego. Currently, Drury is on the injured list for the Los Angeles Angels.
McKinney would finish the year off pretty well with the Jays, coming back up from Buffalo on August 17th. He’d bat .252 with six home runs and 13 RBIs in 2018, following that up with .215 and 12 homers in 2019. McKinney would only play 2 games for the Jays in 2020 before being DFA’d on September 11th. He was picked up by the Brewers on waivers and bounced around the league. The outfielder is back for his second stint with the Yankees this season, slashing .247/.326/.482 in 95 plate appearances.
July 30th: Toronto acquires RP Ken Giles, RP Héctor Pérez, and RP David Paulino from Houston for RP Roberto Osuna
When Osuna revealed himself as a piece of crap, there was really no other option for the Jays besides dumping him for the best possible return that they could grab. A trio of relief pitchers came the other way in exchange for the Jays’ closer, and though it was a tough position to be put in, Toronto didn’t do all that poorly.
Osuna established himself as one of the best closers in the MLB and continued to do so as an Astro. He finished 2018 with 21 saves and a 2.37 ERA. The next season, Osuna led the AL with 38 saves, recording a 2.63 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 65 innings. In 2020, the pitcher was advised to undergo Tommy John surgery but elected to go with the non-surgical option. That ended up costing Osuna his big-league career, as the closer would never appear in another MB contest. He would sign in the Mexican league for the 2021 season, before heading overseas to the NPB in Japan. Currently, Osuna is pitching for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks.
Ken Giles was struggling with the Astros when he was brought on over to the Jays, and the struggles continued to the end of the 2018 season. In 21 appearances, the closer posted a 4.12 ERA in 19.2 innings but was striking players out at a decent rate. It helped bring momentum into the 2019 season where Giles dominated, a 1.87 ERA in 53 games while securing 23 saves for Toronto. 2020 brought about a tough start, where in 4 games Giles finished with 9.82 ERA and 4 hits, and 4 walks in 3.2 innings of work. He was shut down for the season for Tommy John and went unsigned by the Blue Jays. Giles made a stop in Seattle, before finding himself currently in the Dodgers minor league system.
Paulino would make 7 appearances for the Jays to close out 2018, sporting an excellent 1.35 ERA in 6.2 innings pitched. Unfortunately, that would be pretty much the high point for him in Toronto as he was DFA’d just a year earlier and then released. In 2021, Paulino signed a minor league contract with the Phillies before getting his contract selected for an appearance on August 13th. But after only two innings and giving up two runs, Paulino was DFA’d the day after and then outrighted to Lehigh Valley. 2021 remains the last season he has made an appearance in baseball.
Pérez was directly assigned to New Hampshire, pitching 6 games for the Fisher Cats with a 3.86 ERA to his name. The next season, he took a step back, recording a 4.60 ERA in 24 starts, a SO/9 of 8.7 compared to his 11.2 from the year prior. Pérez did end up making a single-inning appearance for the Jays in 2020, getting blown up for 3 hits, 2 ER, 1 strikeout, and 3 walks in 1.2 innings of work, good enough to finish with a 10.80 ERA. Pérez was dealt to the Reds in 2021 in exchange for a PTBNL or cash considerations. He is currently pitching in Triple-A Durham as part of the Rays organization.
July 31st: Toronto acquires P Corey Copping from Los Angeles for RP John Axford
In a season where John Axford became the 6th Canadian to start a game for the Blue Jays, the relief pitcher attracted quite a bit of attention on the trade market as an arm out of the bullpen. Toronto managed to get back a young pitcher in the form of Copping, but neither player really made much impact for their respective teams.
Axford only played in five games with the Dodgers, allowing seven earned runs in 3.2 innings pitched. His time with the Dodgers ended with a 17.18 ERA beside his name. He would end up signing back in Toronto the following year, though Axford would not make a single appearance in the majors. He was released due to an elbow injury before re-signing with the Blue Jays with a new contract, rehabbing his injury in rookie ball. He’d spend the 2020 and 2021 seasons down there, before appearing with the Brewers in the 2021 season. Axford last pitched at the WBC for Canada.
As for the return, Copping joined New Hampshire to finish off 2018 strong, a 1.93 ERA with 12.9 SO/9 boding well for an improved 2019. But the next year would be his last, as a 5.68 ERA in 50.2 IP between New Hampshire and Buffalo would be enough to sink his prospects. Copping was released after the 2019 season and has not made another appearance in the minor league to date.
July 31st: Toronto acquires SP Jacob Waguespack from Philadelphia for RP Aaron Loup
With the Phillies trying to shore up their bullpen to hopefully make a run for the postseason, they dealt undrafted prospect Jacob Waguespack in exchange for Aaron Loup, who had an unimpressive 4.54 ERA but also struck people out a lot with 10.6 SO/9. Waguespack was doing decently for a 24-year-old pitching prospect, with a 4.68 ERA in 15 starts between double-A and triple-A.
Loup would only appear in 9 games for Philadelphia, recording a 4.50 ERA in just 4 IP. His SO/9 rate plummeted to 4.5 with the Phillies, who missed the playoffs again. Loup would ink a contract with the Padres for the next season, only to spend most of the year on the IL. He would then join the Tampa Bay Rays in 2020, becoming one of their most reliable bullpen arms along the way to a World Series appearance. The next season, Loup pitched his best baseball yet with the Mets, posting a staggering 0.95 ERA in 56.2 IP while racking up 9.1 SO/9. He’d join the Angels bullpen in 2022, where he remains to this day with some less successful results.
Waguespack’s numbers did not improve much with the Jays organization. Finishing the year off in Buffalo, his ERA jumped to 5.03 in just 7 games. That along with some decent numbers to start off 2019 earned him his MLB call-up, where he appeared in 16 contests for Toronto. Waguespack showed promise in his first season with the Jays, finishing 2019 off with a 4.38 ERA in 16 games, sporting a 1.333 WHIP. However, 2020 brought about struggles as Waguespack was used more in a relief role. His 8.15 ERA in just 17.2 IP that season was enough to get DFA’d in the offseason and outrighted back to Buffalo. Waguespack has been pitching for the Orix Buffaloes in the NPB since 2021.




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