One writer says the Blue Jays can look to San Diego for some upgrades this offseason. Some ideas make sense, some are too fun not to mention
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The Toronto Blue Jays are in the midst of an exciting offseason and still have a number of spots to fill on the roster. There is a Teoscar Hernandez sized hole in the outfield that must be addressed, as well as a solid mid rotation starter to be added. The bullpen has already been improved, but could be further augmented. While the Jays front office will be leaving no stone unturned (or more aptly, no iPhone not messaged?) there are a few current and recent members of the San Diego Padres that could help the Jays address their needs and improve this team.
Some of the names I am going to talk about below make sense right away, however some of them are obviously “Plan C or D” type acquisitions. The final player discussed would be impossible to imagine AJ Preller trading away, but with Preller and his penchant for big moves you just never know….
First on the list, and least likely by far is Jurickson Profar. The former top prospect is currently a free agent. I think he would only be an option if all other options did not come to fruition. After some injuries and a ‘failure to launch’ Profar had himself a decent year in San Diego last season putting up a slash line of .243 / .331 / .391. A switch hitter, he also hit 15 home runs and recorded an OPS+ of 111. Profar was exclusively an outfielder last year and not a good one at that, with an outs above average of -6 as per Statcast. As his days on the infield are long past him and he plays left field, he is not a perfect fit of the Jays. Baseball Trade Rumors project a contract of 2 years and $20,000,000. If he ends up on the Jays, something either went terribly wrong for the front office, that or the Jays traded Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and need a short term inexpensive replacement.
Somewhat more logical for the Blue Jays is left-handed starter Sean Manaea. Traded form Oakland to San Diego last offseason, Manaea produced a 4.96 ERA last season over 158 innings. I included him in this list because he was a significant source of rumors / speculation last offseason for the Blue Jays. That being said, if the Jays pay the projected $52,000,000 over four years that Baseball Trade Rumors projects him to sign for this offseason, lots of other pitchers would have already turned down the Blue Jays buckets of cash.
Now moving to better, more logical fits for the Blue Jays, we turn to free agent Mike Clevinger. After being one of the top starters in the game for a number of years in Cleveland, Clevinger had Tommy John surgery in 2020. After missing all of 2021 he returned to the Padres and pitched to a 4.33 ERA over 114 innings last season. Baseball Trade Rumors predicts a one-year $10,000,000 contract to re-establish his value. Being another year removed from Tommy John he is a good bet to perform closer to his 3.39 career ERA. If the Jays are interested, it should be for the inside track on the fifth starter spot. There is little downside risk, but lots of upside potential. Plus he creates competition for Yusei Kikuchi and Mitch White.
Now to the fun stuff….
The Padres have two really good starting pitchers on expiring contracts in Yu Darvish and Blake Snell. At first glance, as the Padres are all trying to win the World Series, one would logically think that the Padres will hold on to both of these top of the rotation pitchers. However, that would be discounting AJ Preller and his propensity for making big moves. Preller loves to shock the baseball world with bold moves. Since the end of 2019 Preller has acquired big names such as Cy Young candidates Darvish, Snell, and Clevinger, all world Juan Soto and relief ace Josh Hader and many others. Preller may have a few more tricks up his sleeve and may need to move some cash to sign a free agent such as Justin Verlander or Jacob Degrom. In fact, I think Preller might do this simply to keep them from the Dodgers or the Giants.
The bottom line is we simply do not know what AJ Preller will do. If he is interested in moving either pitcher, given they are on expiring contacts and have relatively high salaries, their actual trade value is not overly burdensome. The website Baseball Trade Values puts a value of 5,900,000 on Darvish and 6,500,000 on Snell. These are not values that would scare off a contending team if either pitcher were made available. Either pitcher would help the Jays immensely, as Darvish pitched to a 3.10 ERA over 194 IP and Snell posted a 3.38 ERA over 128 IP. With salaries of $18,000,000 and $16,600,000 respectively, they fit the Jays payroll, especially as the commitment is for only one year.
Now, for the totally insane, but thinking along the same lines. Let’s pretend Preller really wanted to shake up the baseball world. Let’s pretend he wanted to deny his biggest rivals, the Dodgers and Giants, the biggest prize on the free agent market. Lets pretend Preller wanted to sign Aaron Judge to replace Jurickson Profar. In order to do that he would have to move a significant contract. Well maybe, just maybe Preller is not only willing to move the massive $332,600,000 left on the contract of 23 year old Fernando Tatis Jr., but given the injury history and performance enhancing drug usage Preller would prefer to do just that. While Baseball Trade Values puts a massive value of 112.5 on Tatis, there cannot be many potential teams willing to take on the contract, and if Preller really wanted to make such a move, maybe a couple of prospects could get such a deal done.
I know it is totally insane, but if you look hard enough you can see a reason for Preller to trade his former cornerstone player and you can see Rogers wanting to make a splash to fill the newly renovated Rogers Center seats and acquire an all world talent to replace Teoscar Hernandez in right field. Heck, Tatis is only owed $7,714,285 next season. Rogers can worry about the impacts of the huge contract later, after phase two of Rogers Center renovations, and after they win the 2023 World Series. I know it is far fetched, but sometimes the long hot stove season makes our minds wander away from the logical and explore off the wall ideas.
Utterly Outlandish Prediction:
To the Blue Jays: Blake Snell and Fernando Tatis Jr.
To San Diego: Yusei Kikuchi, Santiago Espinal, Julian Merryweather, Orelvis Martinez, Adam Macko and Hayden Juenger
Blue Jays sign Mike Clevinger to a one-year, $12,000,000 contract.
San Diego signed Aaron Judge to an 8-year, $320,000,000 contract.
2023 World Series: Blue Jays over the Padres in six!
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