The five best Trades of the Shapkins era
Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
10 months ago
Now that the baseball season is upon us, and the Blue Jays off-season is likely done, it’s time to rank the best Blue Jays moves since Shapiro and Atkins took over in late 2015.
The Jose Berrios trade could easily go down as one of the better trades, but it depends on how both Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson develop. The same case could be made for the recent Matt Chapman trade, but that depends on how he performs as well as the prospects that the Jays lost.
Lastly, I will include the Randal Grichuk for Raimel Tapia and Adrian Pinto in this section. While for 2022 it’s already a good move, depending on how Pinto develops, this could be an all-time best trade for the Blue Jays. However, we are not there yet.
Like the trade mentioned above, a trade that benefited both teams was when the Jays sent Steve Pearce to the Red Sox for Santiago Espinal. Good trade.
My editor mentioned this one as well, but trading for Jason Grilli and cash for Sean Ratcliffe drastically improved the team to sneak into a wildcard position. In fact, you could probably fit acquiring Joaquin Benoit for Drew Storen in this category as well.
In terms of trades that are okay, but not great, the Marcus Stroman to the Mets for Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods Richardson stands out. This trade was a good one if only because they were able to flip SWR for Jose Berrios.
In fact, a lot of the work during the 2019 trade deadline was pretty good. They received Thomas Hatch for Dave Phelps. They received #15 prospect Kyle Johnston for Daniel Hudson. They also received Curtis Taylor and Edisson Gonzalez for Eric Sogard, a nice transaction, albeit minor.
With that being said, here are the best trades that Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins have made since they took over.
5) Rowdy Tellez for Trevor Richards and Bowden Francis
Like the Grichuk trade, the Blue Jays traded an MLB player (Rowdy Tellez) for a need (Trevor Richards) and a prospect who could impact the team (Bowden Francis).
On July 6th, 2021, the Blue Jays desperately needed bullpen help. Yes, they had already acquired a high-leverage reliever (we’ll get to him), but they still needed one or two more pieces. To do this, they traded fan favourite, Rowdy Tellez.
After a pretty good season with the Jays in 2020, Tellez struggled to start the 2021 season. He slashed .209/.272/.610 (compared to .283/.346/.886 in 2020) with four homers in his 151 plate appearances.
After being sent back to Buffalo, the then 26-year-old was packaged to the Milwaukee Brewers for reliever Trevor Richards and prospect Bowden Francis. To his credit, Tellez bounced back with the Brewers, but let’s talk about Richards.
Compared to who the Jays had in the bullpen at the time, Richards was a saviour. He pitched 32.2 innings with the team, finishing with a 3.31 ERA and a K/9 of 10.2 with a BB/9 of 2.8. While he isn’t a high leverage reliever by any means, Richards was good enough to significantly help the bullpen not blow leads.
Trading Rowdy Tellez for Trevor Richards alone wouldn’t rank this trade on this list, but the Jays also acquired prospect Bowden Francis. The 25-year-old righty pitched 111.2 innings in Triple A in the 2021 season, posting a 3.95 ERA with a 8.9 K/9. This included 73 innings pitched with the Buffalo Bisons, where his ERA jumped to 4.19.
Regardless, Bowden is now ranked 15th on MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 prospect for the Jays. Francis was added to the Jays 40-man roster, meaning that he could possibly feature on the Jays this season. All this is to say that it was a good trade to get a relief pitcher and a prospect for a guy who wasn’t even in the MLB.
4) Joe Panik for Adam Cimber and Corey Dickerson
On June 30th, 2021, the Blue Jays traded Joe Panik and Adam McInvale to the Miami Marlins for relief pitcher Adam Cimber and Corey Dickerson.
Panik slashed .246/.293/.644 in 114 plate appearances with the Jays. He finished the 2021 season with a bWAR of -1.5, meaning he was well below average.
Adam Cimber, who was 30 at the time, posted a 1.69 ERA and 2.82 FIP in his 37.1 innings pitched with the Jays. His walk rate decreased from 2.9 to 1.2 while his K/9 jumped from 5.5 to 7.2 and he was the set-up man for Jordan Romano. At this point, this trade is already a massive win, but they also got Corey Dickerson.
The 32-year-old Dickerson added versatility to the team as he is a left handed hitting outfielder. In his short stint with the Jays, he slashed .282/.329/.779 with four homers in his 140 plate appearances.
This was an absolute steal of a trade.
3) Jays acquire Robbie Ray for Travis Bergen
Originally, I included the most recent trade for Raimel Tapia. However, this was an absolutely fantastic trade. Prior to the trade on August 31st, Ray had an ERA of 7.84 and a FIP of 7.29 in his 31 innings pitched with the Diamondbacks.
More worryingly however, is the fact that his BB/9 was an incredibly high 9, meaning a walk per inning. Ray had shown his potential before, as he was an all-star in the 2017 season, finishing with a 2.89 ERA and a K/9 of 12.1, the highest in the MLB.
Ray wasn’t immediately great in his first shortened season with the Jays, as he posted a 4.79 ERA, 5.32 FIP and a BB/9 of 6.1, but there was a significant improvement. This included his only playoff game for the Jays, where he pitched 3 innings with one walk, five strikes and only a single run scored.
We all know about Ray’s 2021 season where he won the AL Cy Young award. He pitched 193.1 innings (the most in the AL), had a 2.84 ERA (the best in the AL), had 248 strikeouts (most in the MLB) and had an 11.5 K/9.
The Jays extended him a qualifying offer, which Ray promptly turned down. The 30-year-old lefty signed with the Seattle Mariners, meaning that the Jays will receive a compensation pick in the 2022 MLB draft.
What about Travis Bergen though? The Jays actually re-acquired him, sending cash to the Diamondbacks. The then 27-year-old posted a 1.69 (nice) ERA in his 10.2 innings pitched before being designated for assignment in late June.
The Jays traded a prospect for a Cy Young winner, reacquired the prospect AND got a compensation pick out of it (while signing a pitcher with similar stats). It’s a pretty good trade if you ask me. The reason it doesn’t rank higher is because the Jays re-signed Ray, who was a free agent after the 2020 season.
2) Francisco Liriano for Teoscar Hernandez and Nori Aoki
This whole trade tree was insane. I wrote about this trade before, but here’s how the Jays made one of the best decisions in franchise history on July 31st, 2017.
The Jays were able to flip 33-year-old Francisco Liriano for Nori Aoki (34 plate appearances with the Jays, retired after the season) and the Astro’s #7 prospect Teoscar Hernandez.
In 2017, Liriano had a 5.88 ERA and a 4.73 FIP in his 82.2 innings pitched with the Jays. They were able to flip him for future all-star and two time silver slugger award winner, Teoscar Hernandez.
Not much else needs to be said, what a steal.
1) Drew Hutchison for Francisco Liriano and two top prospects
This is by far their best trade. While I could have included the Teoscar trade in this section, I think there is an important distinction. In 2016, the Blue Jays were attempting to go to the World Series. In 2017, they weren’t going to make it. So what makes this trade so special?
The Blue Jays sent Drew Hutchison, who had a 4.97 ERA and 5.69 FIP with the Jays in 2016 to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Francisco Liriano, Reese McGuire and Harold Ramirez.
The thing is, Liriano absolutely killed it with the Jays in 2016. In 49.1 innings with the team, he posted a 2.92 ERA and 3.98 FIP, a far cry from his 2017 stats prior to the Teoscar Hernandez trade. Liriano was a big part of the push to make the Wild Card game and later the ALCS.
Not only did they bolster their starting pitching staff, they also received two top 6 prospects from the Pirates organization. Reese McGuire was ranked as the 5th best prospect in the Pirates organization, and although his bat isn’t great, Reese is one of the best defensive catchers. Expect an article on him shortly.
The other prospect, Harold Ramirez, was ranked as the 6th best prospect in the Pirates organization prior to the trade. While he never played an MLB game with the Jays, he has put together a solid career, slashing .271/.308/.714 with 18 homers in 818 plate appearances.
That begs the question, why does this trade rank above the Teoscar trade? To me, the fact that Liriano played a part in helping the team make the 2016 ALCS helps make this the number one trade. Not just that, but they traded a mediocre to bad pitcher for two top prospects and Liriano.
Also, who knows. Without this trade, perhaps the Jays wouldn’t have gotten Teoscar Hernandez.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D. Realistically those two trades could have been put together, but I wanted to highlight how the Hutchison trade was an absolute steal.
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