Blue Jays Mailbag: Bo Bichette, Christian Yelich, and More Trade Speculation
It's the week of the Winter Meetings, which means trade rumours are running rampant! Andrew Stoeten makes sense of some hypothetical scenarios.
Photos by Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The Winter Meetings are wrapping up in Orlando, and like most of the league, the Blue Jays have been quiet. They didn't even make a Rule 5 pick!
Though a few especially anxious Jays fans don't yet seem to know it, a whole lot of movement is still set to come. So let's take a look at where the offseason stands with another dip into the ol' mailbag!
And remember, if you have a Blue Jays question you'd like me to tackle for next week, be sure to send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, I have not read any of Griff's answers.
Were the Blue Jays at the Winter Meetings?
Whooooa!!!! Sick burn, dude!
Believe it or not, the object of the Winter Meetings, and the offseason itself, isn't to make the most transactions the fastest. It's to lay the groundwork to have as good a team as possible on Opening Day.
Complaining about inactivity two months before pitchers and catchers report, when plenty of other teams have been quiet, too, and plenty of moves are still out there to be made, is only slightly ahead of whining about minor transactions on my list of annoying fan offseason traits. Relax, pal.
I feel like if we wanted Avisail Garcia & Cesar Hernandez to fill OF/MI duties, we'd have done it. But that we're out of the likes of Ozuna/Yelich/Gordon makes me ask what exactly is the happy medium the Blue Jays are waiting on via trade? McCutchen & Harrison?
Why do you feel like if the Jays wanted Garcia and Hernandez they'd have done it? Those guys haven't been moved yet! Imagine that the Jays had made the best of several offers on them, but the White Sox and the Phillies hadn't yet decided it's worth making the deal. Should the Jays make a bigger bid just for the sake of getting the deal done? If nobody's going to offer more, then they're just costing themselves assets for no reason.
Obviously as other avenues start to close up, they're going to have to start making decisions on some of the potential moves out there for them, but there are still plenty of players that could be available. You just named four—plus there's the possibility of Yelich, too, though like you I think that's a long shot—and beyond those guys you've got Jonathan Villar, Eduardo Nunez, Neil Walker, Billy Hamilton, Adam Duvall, Jay Bruce, Freddy Galvis, Yangervis Solarte, and on, and on, and on.
It's still fairly early in the process.
Are you less saddened by missing out on Ohtani due to elbow news? And do you think that's something that should have been picked up on prior to a contract being signed?
I'm not, because I believe the issue was known to teams, and that the Angels are saying the small tear in his ulnar collateral ligament is consistent with what you'd see in a pitcher of his age.
Honestly, I think that was a case of people reading the headline on that Yahoo report, but not the report itself.
Would you Move Bo Bichette for someone who fits the now and future like Christian Yelich or Michael Fulmer? (Picked those two given cost controlled and said to be available)
I would. Certainly for Yelich, who is an outstanding young player with years of control left. He'd fit the Jays' current needs well, and perhaps balances their long-term mix of infielders and outfielders a little better, too.
In the middle of the infield the Jays currently have Troy Tulowitzki, Devon Travis, Aledmys Diaz, Gift Ngoepe, Lourdes Gurriel, Richard Urena, and are looking at adding another body to that mix, and eventually looking at a Logan Warmoth, too. In the outfield it's Kevin Pillar, Steve Pearce and Ezequiel Carrera (who barely count, really), Anthony Alford, Dalton Pompey, Gurriel, possibly Diaz, and eventually probably Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Especially given that Yelich hits well enough to play in a outfield corner, I think flipping Bichette from that infield pool so you have Yelich in the outfield one makes a whole lot of sense.
The problem that arises with this is that, as great a prospect as Bo Bichette is, it's going to take more than a Bo Bichette to get Yelich. If you look at the prospects the White Sox got back last year when they traded Adam Eaton—a similar player to Yelich, on a similarly team-friendly deal, albeit two years older—it looks awfully scary. Lucas Giolito was close to the best pitching prospect in the game at the time, Reynaldo Lopez was a top 50 prospect by MLB.com, and ranked 30th and 31st by Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America, respectively, and Dane Dunning had been a first-round pick in the previous year's draft.
I'm not sure the Marlins are quite as shrewd as the White Sox were *COUGH*, but the price for Yelich is going to be similarly astronomical, and honestly, I just don’t see the Jays having the wherewithal to push the extra pieces in that will be necessary to get the deal done—at least not in the same way that teams with a window that's a little bit more open, or a system that's a little bit deeper will be.
Smoak for Bradley jr. Who says no? Would it make sense? It would open a spot for Pearce at first, lefty bat, younger, faster and more athletic. Would seem to check some boxes for the Jays. Sox are looking for a power bat and have a hole at first. Might work for them too?
Player A: .245/.323/.402, 90 wRC+, 2.3 WAR
Player B: .256/.300/.404, 85 wRC+, 1.9 WAR
Player A is Bradley in 2017, and Player B is Kevin Pillar in 2017. And while that's a little bit of an unfair comparison, because in 2015 and 2016 Bradley produced offence in a way Pillar is incapable of, we're still talking about Bradley's 9.9 WAR in 527 career games versus Pillar's 10.2 WAR in 548 games.
I'd trade Pillar for Bradley in a heartbeat. But I wouldn't trade Smoak for anything that looked remotely like Pillar—and that's kinda what you're asking me to do here. You're also asking me to make the Red Sox better, and to take one of the best bats away from a team that was woeful on the offensive side of the ball in 2017.
Do you see a potential fit with the Yankees and Jays regarding Jacoby Ellsbury? The Jays obviously need outfielders, and isn’t he a left handed hitter to boot? The word out of New York seems to be that they would like to shed his contract, and I seem to remember seeing a tweet about the Yankees paying part of his salary and adding prospects to the deal to sweeten the pot? Sounds a little like the Lirano trade with Pittsburgh, no? Or do you think the Yankees would be hesitant to trade him within the AL East, and have a player they’re paying burn them?
I'm not sure that the Yankees would be hesitant to trade him within the AL East, but probably more so than trading him to a different division. The bigger problems I see are, 1) the fact that he makes $21.1 million for each of the next three years, with a $5 million buyout on a 2021 option, which I think is too high a salary for the Jays to pay a player like that, even with decent prospects coming back (especially since the Yankees probably won't be inclined to help out with much of it). And 2) the fact that Ellsbury has a full no-trade clause and doesn't seem especially inclined to waive it—and probably won't be swayed to do so by the chance to come to Toronto.
So, yeah, don’t see it.
With Rogers potentially looking to sell the Blue Jays, do you think they'll give any thought toward who buys the team beyond the person/company who/that offers the most money?
To wit: if - as reported - Rogers still wants to broadcast Blue Jays games, in theory they'd want the ratings from those games to be, well, good, and if *shudder* the Ontario Teachers Pension Fund, or InBev Redux, or Derek Jeter's Worse Brother buys the team, would anyone believe they'd invest the necessary sums to put a competitive team on the field? And we know from the recent past that sub-par teams are a tough draw to consistently attract Blue Jays fans. This isn't to suggest Rogers would accept $1 billion less from a "good" owner, but am I being too optimistic to think the future of the team is at least a consideration for Rogers?
I would like to think that you're right, but I'm not sure how much of a real concern it would be.
For one, the way it's supposed to work is that if you have enough capital to buy the team, you should be able to run it properly! The Marlins situation is, hopefully, a uniquely grotesque one—and one that MLB will hopefully work harder to ensure gets avoided in the future. What a mess!
For two, I have a hard time seeing the Blue Jays being sold to anybody but MLSE or Edward Rogers. So that's probably fine.
And even if the Teacher's Pension Plan makes a surprise bid, I think we'd do well to remember that it wasn't so much that they were cheap owners when they ran the Leafs, it was that they were owners who hired a whole lot of incompetent hockey people. I wouldn't be too bothered by that, to be honest. Though, like I say, I wouldn't expect it anyway.