Where are they now: A look at how former Blue Jays are performing

Photo credit:MLBNetwork
Ryley Delaney
27 days ago
We’re nearing the mid-way mark of the 2024 Major League Baseball season.
With that being said, it’s a good time to look back at how some former Blue Jays are doing in their new organization.
The scope of this article will begin with the most recent departures, running from the Cavan Biggio trade until the turn of the decade, for the most part at least. It’s also worth noting that not every single player who has played for this team in recent years will be covered, as this is a lengthy article. A guy like Jacob Barnes, Adam Cimber, Raimel Tapia, and numerous others are just out of the scope of this article.
Moreover, we won’t be looking at that many prospects. Players such as Simeon Woods Richardson have found success with their team, but he never pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays, and that may be left for a different article.
Without further ado, let’s see how some former

Cavan Biggio

The wound is still fresh, as Biggio was designated for assignment and later traded by the Blue Jays to the Los Angeles Dodgers. In just six games, Biggio is slashing .176/.333/.175 with two walks (11.8 BB%) and six strikeouts (35.3 K%).
It’s a pretty typical Biggio line, but here’s to hoping he finds some success in a super utility role for the Dodgers. Hell, he may even get a deep postseason run, which he wouldn’t have gotten with the Jays.

Jordan Hicks

Jordan Hicks was acquired at the 2023 trade deadline in exchange for Sem Robberse and Adam Kloffenstein, with the latter making his big league debut on Thursday.
It’s not a great trade in hindsight – all three of the trades with the St. Louis Cardinals were suspect – but what hurts even more is how Hicks has done in a starter role.
Signing with the San Francisco Giants, Hicks has a 2.82 ERA and a 3.68 FIP in 76.2 innings pitched in 15  starts. The velocity has obviously dropped, but so too has his K% as it went from 28.4% in 2023 (a career-high) down to 21.3%, a career-low. Hicks’ 8.8 BB% is also a career-best though, so he’s found some consistency.

Santiago Espinal

With an influx of infield talent percolating in Triple-A, it was only a matter of time before the Blue Jays traded fan-favourite Santiago Espinal. They pulled the trigger on March 20, moving the utility infielder to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for minor league pitching prospect Chris McElvain.
Espinal hasn’t had the best tenure with the Reds, slashing .207/.258/.314 with four homers in 159 plate appearances for a career-worst 56 wRC+ and a -0.3 fWAR. He’s not walking (6.9 BB%) or striking out (13.8 K%) a ton, but the defence has been fine, down from good to even great in past seasons.

Hyun Jin Ryu

After missing most of 2022 and 2023 with Tommy John surgery, the free agent that got the Blue Jays spending in the off-season departed the Blue Jays, signing an eight-year, $12.8 million deal with the Hanwha Eagles in the Korean Baseball Organization.
Ryu, who is now 37, yes, he signed an eight-year deal, has a 3.38 ERA in 80 innings pitched in his return to KBO. On top of that, he has a 19.8 K% and a 5.3 BB%. Pretty much what one would expect from Ryu.

Matt Chapman

Was there a more polarizing player on the Blue Jays in 2022 and 2023? On one end, you have one of the greatest defensive third basemen in our generation who could hammer a ball when he gets a hold of it. On the other end, he couldn’t hit a damn fastball high in the zone to save his life, on top of incredibly inconsistent play.
The Blue Jays extended a qualifying offer for the 31-year-old baseman, with Chapman declining it and eventually signing with the San Francisco Giants (it wouldn’t be the final former Jay on the team).
This season, Chapman is slashing .227/.307/.379 with eight homers in 309 plate appearances, along with a 9.4 BB% and a 23.9 K% for a 99 wRC+ and a 1.5 fWAR. The defence has been solid, posting 3 Defensive Runs Saved and 1 Outs Above Average in 629.2 innings at third base.

Whit Merrifield

Once one of the best hitters in the game, it’s been a sad decline for Whit Merrifield since the beginning of the 2022 season. That was the same season the Jays traded Samad Taylor and Max Castillo for the utility player.
After a season and a half of solid play for the Jays, Merrifield left the team to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies, where he has a .190/.274/.298 slash line with three homers in 136 plate appearances. On top of that, he has a 9.6 BB% and a 10.3 K%, giving him a career-worst 66 wRC+ and -0.3 fWAR.
It’s safe to say that the Blue Jays made the right call by letting him walk and playing Davis Schneider in the role Merrifield occupied.

Otto López

One player who the Blue Jays may regret walking away from is Otto López. Once a top 10 prospect of the team, López had an abysmal 2023 filled with injuries. In a 40-man roster crunch, he was designated for assignment (despite having options) and later traded to the San Francisco Giants.
He found his way to the Miami Marlins, where he has slashed .258/.292/.367 with three homers in 139 plate appearances, just two shy of matching his career-best total for the homer category. Overall, he has an 86 wRC+ and a 0.6 fWAR, with his game faltering in the last month.
Since May 20, he’s slashing .231/.256/.256 with two doubles in 84 plate appearances for a 45 wRC+. Hopefully, he can pick it up soon.

Trent Thornton

One player I’ve always said is going to figure it out on a different team is Trent Thornton. He has a great secondary in his slider on top of solid velocity and command. Well, he’s figured it out for the Seattle Mariners.
In 32.2 innings pitched, Thornton has a 3.58 ERA and a 2.83 FIP, along with a 25 K% and a 7.6 BB% with just two home runs given up. He’s pitched in six innings of high leverage, holding batters to a .211 average and posting a 2.14 FIP.
While he won’t ever be a closer, he’s found a nice role for himself in the Seattle Mariners bullpen. So has Taylor Saucedo, who didn’t make this list, but has a 3 ERA and a 3.37 FIP in 18 innings pitched. Ah, the volatility of the relief pitcher.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was one of two players involved in the Daulton Varsho trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks two days before Christmas Day in 2022. The 2023 season was his final year before becoming a free agent, posting a .261/.390/.463 slash line with a career-high 24 homers in 592 plate appearances for a career-best 2 fWAR.
Re-signing with the Diamondbacks, Gurriel Jr. is slashing .256/.292/.395 with nine homers in 295 plate appearances for a 92 wRC+. This trade looked like a loss for the Jays, but Varsho, who also plays in the outfield, is slashing .213/.294/.438 with 11 homers in 262 plate appearances for a 109 wRC+ and a 2.1 fWAR on top of the best outfield defence in the league.

Gabriel Moreno

The big part of the Varsho trade was the inclusion of a top 10 prospect in baseball at the time, Gabriel Moreno.
Moreno’s 2023 was solid, slashing .284/.339/.408 with seven homers in 380 plate appearances with the Diamondbacks, along with a 7.6 BB% and a 19.7 K% for a 103 wRC+. He won the National League Gold Glove for catcher while also hitting four postseason home runs, helping the Diamondbacks win the National League pennant.
The 2024 season hasn’t been as kind to Moreno though, slashing .233/.308/.324 with two homers in 214 plate appearances for an 82 wRC+, along with a 1 fWAR. The defence is still great, and it’s far too soon to give up on the 24-year-old, but it’s also why you don’t judge a trade after one season.

Teoscar Hernández

The same can be said for this trade. In mid-November 2022, the Blue Jays traded slugging outfielder Teoscar Hernández for Erik Swanson and Adam Macko.
Hernández didn’t have a great season for the Seattle Mariners in 2023, slashing .258/.305/.435 with 26 homers in 678 plate appearances, along with a 31.1 K% and a 105 wRC+, his lowest since 2019. He also had a 1.8 fWAR, the lowest since the COVID-shortened 2020.
Well, in just 321 plate appearances with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Hernández is slashing .261/.329/.505 with 18 homers, along with an 8.3 BB% and a 28.2 K% for a 134 wRC+ and a 1.9 fWAR.
Signing a one-year deal, Hernández has positioned himself to get paid handsomely after the season is done, especially if the Dodgers go on a deep run. Moreover, they’ll be entitled to give the 31-year-old a qualifying offer. Damn, maybe the Blue Jays should’ve matched the offer.

Ross Stripling

A big reason the 2022 Blue Jays made the postseason was thanks to this man, Ross Stripling. At the 2020 trade deadline, the Blue Jays traded top 30 prospect Kendall Williams and Ryan Noda in exchange for the long-man.
After two seasons of unremarkable play with nice stretches, Stripling had to fill in for Hyun Jin Ryu who went down thanks to Tommy John surgery. Stripling went on to post a 3.01 ERA and a 3.11 FIP in 134.1 innings pitched that season, along with a 20.7 K% and a 3.7 BB%.
The Jays were unable to sign him, as he moved on to the Giants (a lot of former Blue Jays have played there in recent season) and had a rough 2023 season. That was in part due to poor play (5.36 ERA), but also due to injuries, as he pitched just 89 innings.
After opting into his player option, Stripling was traded to the Oakland Athletics, where he had a 5.82 ERA and a 3.99 FIP in 55.2 innings pitched, along with a 13.9 K% and a 4.8 BB% in 11 starts. Currently on the 15-day Injured List, if he’s healthy by the trade deadline, he could be traded.

Randal Grichuk

Randal Grichuk was an instrumental part of the “really bad Blue Jays” from 2017-2019, even hitting a career-best 31 home runs in 2019. He eventually transitioned to a fourth outfielder role in 2020 and 2021, before being traded to the Colorado Rockies before the start of the 2022 season.
The Blue Jays received Raimel Tapia, along with reigning Dominican Summer League MVP Adrian Pinto, who has barely played due to injury since joining the Jays. Grichuk had typical Grichuk seasons in 2022 and 2023, being trade at the 2023 deadline to the Los Angeles Angels.
This past off-season, he signed with Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Gabriel Moreno in Arizona, where he’s slashing .304/.360/.464 with two homers in 125 plate appearances. The early part of the season is where Grichuk shines, and he currently has a 129 wRC+ and a 0.7 fWAR.

Marcus Semien

One player who has shone bright since the beginning of the 2021 season is Marcus Semien. Signing a pillow contract with the Jays, the team’s second baseman of the 2021 season went on to slash .265/.334/.538 with 45 home runs in 724 plate appearances for a 131 wRC+ and a 6 fWAR.
He declined the Blue Jays’ qualifying offer, and signed with the pretty awful Texas Rangers. His 2022 wasn’t great, but Semien once again had a terrific odd-year season, slashing .276/.348/.478 with 29 homers in 753 plate appearances, along with a 6.1 fWAR and 124 wRC+. Not just that, but he helped lead the Rangers to their first World Series.
The even year hasn’t been kind to Semien, as he’s slashing .253/.320/.418 with 11 homers in 328 plate appearances for a 108 wRC+ and a 2.4. Still, nice to see him find success.

Robbie Ray

For me, Marcus Semien and Robbie Ray will always be intertwined. Semien signed a pillow deal with the Jays to rebuild his stock, while the Blue Jays traded Travis Bergen for Robbie Ray (set to become a free agent) at the 2020 deadline, later re-signing him for the 2021 season.
Ray had an award-winning season with the Jays in 2021, posting a 2.84 ERA and a 3.69 FIP in 193.1 innings pitched, along with a 32.1 K% and a 6.7 BB% to win his first and only Cy Young award.
Like Semien, he declined his qualifying offer, instead signing with the Seattle Mariners, who’d go on to defeat the Jays in the 2022 Wild Card series. Ignoring that, Ray was a big part in helping the Mariners return to the postseason for the first time since 2001, posting a 3.71 ERA and a 4.17 FIP in 189 innings pitched with a 27.4 K% and an 8 BB%.
However, he pitched just 3.1 innings for the Mariners in 2023 before receiving Tommy John surgery. In early 2024, he was traded to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for former Blue Jay farmhand Anthony DeSclafani among other assets.
Thankfully, it seems like Ray is close to returning, as he’s pitched seven innings on a rehab assignment with the Giants’ rookie ball team.

Joel Payamps

The Blue Jays just didn’t know what they had in Joel Payamps. In 30 innings pitched for the Jays in 2021, mainly in low leverage, Payamps posted a 2.70 ERA and a 4.20 FIP, along with an 18.5 K% and a 9.2 BB%
Toronto would trade him to the Kansas City Royals for cash towards the end of July that year, with Payamps bouncing around for a few seasons before being involved in the William Contreras trade in late 2022.
With the Milwaukee Brewers, he found a role on the National League Central-leading team. This season, the 30-year-old righty has a 3.81 ERA and a 3.26 FIP in 26 innings pitched, along with a 22 K% and a 5.5 BB%.
The one that got away, but he got away from a few other teams too.

Rowdy Tellez

Another player traded mid-way through the 2021 season, the Blue Jays desperately needed reliever depth, so they moved a blocked player (Rowdy Tellez) to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Bowden Francis and Trevor Richards.
This was a good trade without question, but Tellez had a successful 2022 season where he slashed .219/.306/.461 with 35 homers in 599 plate appearances for a 110 wRC+. After a less impressive 2023 season, Tellez signed a deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates before the start of the 2024 season.
Through his first 60 games, the left-handed hitting first baseman is slashing .232/.290/.315 with two homers in 183 plate appearances for a 73 wRC+, his career worst total. Hopefully, he can turn it around soon.

Marcus Stroman

Near the 2019 trade deadline, the Blue Jays traded their ace (regularly a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter) to the New York Mets in exchange for Simeon Woods Richardson and Anthony Kay.
He pitched two seasons with the Mets, before signing with the Chicago Cubs prior to the 2022 season. Once again, he put up solid numbers as he has throughout his career, before opting out of his player option and signing with his hometown New York Yankees.
So far this season for the American League East division-leading Yankees, Stroman has a 3.08 ERA and a 4.76 ERA in 15 starts or 84.2 innings pitched. The K% of 17.1% is on the low side, while he’s rocking a career-high 10.6 BB%.
Not great, but I’m not sure the Yankees mind considering they have the best record in the league.

Kevin Pillar

Kevin Pillar has always started his season off hot, before cooling down part way through and becoming a below average hitter with great to subpar defence (depending on the season).
Replacing one of the best players of all time, Mike Trout, Kevin Pillar has become Mike Trout for the Los Angeles Angels. This season with the Angels and the Chicago White Sox, who foolishly DFA’ed him, Pillar is slashing .299/.362/.537 with seven homers in 150 plate appearances for easily a career-best 152 wRC+ as well as a 1.3 fWAR.
Of course, it’s only a matter of time before Pillar cools off, but for a 35-year-old who has been an AAAA player since the Jays traded him, this is pretty darn surprising.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Ryley_L_D.

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