The trade deadline and all the madness that came with it has come and gone.
Some big names and not so big names were moved as teams looked for additions to help their ball club make a playoff run. With teams either in buyer or seller mode (or in between) it has become noticeable which teams will be competing for a spot in the playoffs. The National League is an extremely tight race in each division and the American League is living to the hype as well. The contenders are looking for ways to separate themselves from their division rivals and doing so via trade is a common way.
When teams are looking to make trades with other teams there are several reasons why they may be choosing to do so. Baseball as we know it has evolved greatly over the years and scouting has become more and more prevalent. The stats guys have crunched numbers like never before as teams are looking for stars that will be effective in the big leagues for many years. Some times trades work out very well for teams but sometimes teams regret their decision to trade their player’s years later.
Generally speaking, teams are looking to trade with one another to make a deal happen that will benefit both teams. After all every team has one goal and that is to be champions. Some teams go through long rebuilding stages and rely heavily on drafting to build their teams from the bottom up. You will never find a perfect team in baseball, as there are always ways a team could improve. So lets take a further look into a team’s decisions to make a trade.
The first type of trade that occurs is the general trade in which one team trades with another that will help both teams (usually immediately) due to a surplus or strength in one position and a deficit or weakness in another. The one example in recent years that comes to mind was when the Blue Jays made a trade with the Seattle Mariners that swapped Brandon League for Brandon Morrow. The Blue Jays had a strong bullpen at the time and were willing to part ways with their closer to get a strong young arm in Brandon Morrow who would join their rotation and help them for years to come. Just recently the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers made a big deal involving Ian Kinsler and Prince Fielder (who could be salary related). This was another move in which they took advantage in what they had to get something that was weak on their team. Detroit had Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera that could play first and upgraded their second baseman. Similarly, Texas had their highly touted prospect Jurickson Profar (who has battled injuries all year) ready to take over second base and would surely become a more powerful team with Prince Fielder in their lineup. Detroit who was a strong team offensively already would improve defensively with Kinsler at second base.
Sometimes teams will trade players because they know something that other teams do not about their players. These types of trades tend to be head-scratchers at the time of the trade but later it makes sense why a team would give up a prized player of theirs. One trade that comes to mind is the Micheal Pineda trade. Micheal Pineda was coming off a great rookie campaign in which he made the All-Star team. Montero at the time was a top catching prospect in the game. Some would say at the time the Mariners had many young pitchers to look forward to including Walker and Paxton and that Yankees had other great catching prospects in their system but it still sounded surprising. To have a player coming off a great year like Pineda’s, playing behind King Felix sounded very promising. So as we look back years later we realize that the Mariners may have known about the potential for significant set backs in his career due to injuries. That has been the case as Pineda missed all of the 2012, 2013 and already quite a bit of the 2014 campaign. In fact, the young rookie phenom played only 4 major league games since being traded in 2011. Of course as we know, Montero has seen his fair share of injuries and a 50 game ban for substance abuse since the trade and he hasn’t lived up to the hype with lots of time being spent in AAA. This was a very weird trade but the point here is that teams may know something other teams don’t before making trades. I doubt the Mariners knew Pineda would try and sneak pine tar on his neck though.
Teams often make trades because they believe a player will bounce back and do well due to a change of scenery. Well look no further than the Blue Jays. The miracle stories of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion speak volumes. Jose Bautista was traded from the Pirates. At the time of the trade, Bautista was an average hitter in the MLB and continued to be much of the same until 2010. He missed all but one game for the Blue Jays that year and he hit 54 homeruns. Nobody would have saw that coming and from then on Jose has been an All-Star for the Blue Jays. Much of this story is the same for Edwin Encarnacion. When Encarnacion was traded from the Reds he would improve into all All-Star caliber player himself after being released and having to work his way from Las Vegas at the time. He was a power hitter before becoming a Blue Jay but he began to hit for a higher average and more power with 2012 and 2013 being career-defining years for him. These types of trades leave fans wishing their teams never traded them. Just imagine Chris Davis having his 53 homerun season as a Texas Ranger!
Then we have the good old blockbuster trades. There have been many big blockbusters over the years in the MLB. Many will recall the Boston Red Sox/LA Dodgers trade involving big names including Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Becket. The Blue Jays pulled off a big blockbuster last offseason with the Miami Marlins for Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson. These blockbuster deals tend to revolve around one or multiple superstars. When top players in the league are dealt in blockbusters like John Lester and David Price this year, top prospects are usually involved. In some cases, teams are looking to dump salaries and poor contracts. Cliff Lee was a hot name on the market this year but his salary made acquiring him less attractive for other teams. These blockbusters may include free agents to be at seasons end; in which teams are looking to get something out of players who might just walk. This can be a tough decision for some teams who may still be in contention at the trade deadline. The Blue Jays have seen many players walk and do very well over the years including Chris Carpenter and Alex Rios.
Then we have the rare case where teams get rid of players because they dislike their demeanor or their attitude in the clubhouse. Colby Rasmus was traded from St. Louis after having personal issues with manager Tony La Russa and Yunnel Escobar was traded to Tampa Bay when he was involved with the devastating eye-black situation two seasons ago. These issues may occur behind the scenes and sometimes they could be reasons for teams trading their players but at the end of the day if players don’t perform on the field they will be traded or demoted.
Before looking at the trade history for the Blue Jays lets look at this years trade deadline for the Blue Jays. Lets get right to the point here. The Blue Jays made only one move and that was acquiring Danny Valencia from the Royals in exchange for Liam Hendricks and Erik Kratz. Valencia was acquired for his success against LHP and the Blue Jays will certainly be able to use his bat in the lineup against the left handed pitchers. With the Jays having some problems that need to be resolved and not doing anything at the deadline to address these problems seems disappointing. A reliever would certainly have helped the bullpen and a pitcher would have helped the rotation (despite being very solid this year). There were many rumors around payroll issues but the GM Alex Anthopolous dismissed the idea.
The Jays lack of activity wouldn’t have been as big of a problem if other teams in the AL East didn’t make moves either. But that wasn’t the case. The Yankees continued to add relatively small pieces to their roster that could hopefully help. The Yankees acquired Martin Prado and Stephen Drew to help booster their starting lineup and hopefully pass the Jays in the AL East. The division leading Orioles added LHP reliever Andrew Miller who has been just nasty against hitters in late innings. The Orioles ended giving up one of their top prospect pitchers (fourth I believe) for 2 or 3 months of relief services from Andrew Miller. This was an indication that the prices of names on the market were expensive. It isn’t like the Blue Jays didn’t have the pieces but looking around at other moves around the league, lots of trades involved current players on 25 man rosters. The Jays would likely have had to give up current players who are helping the team to win to get these players and it didn’t seem like they were willing to do so. The Blue Jays players showed their disappointment towards the lack of moves at the deadline, and they should be upset. The Jays are playing meaningful games after who knows how long and the Jays didn’t get much done to help them get to the next level. The A’s and Tigers made their mark at what was arguably the best trade deadline of the decade. On the bright side the Jays are still in contention and with the return of their three players they should be able to compete. The future is still very bright and with Morrow and Rasmus likely gone at seasons-end and a relatively “cheap” young rotation, the Jays should be able to make some meaningful moves in the offseason.
With the Blue Jays being quiet, fans are already suggesting the season being over. This lack of optimism and confidence has got me thinking about the way the Blue Jays have traded over the years. Once a trade is made fans around the league like to jump to conclusions saying so and so won this trade and so and so lost this trade. Well its not very easy to declare a “winner” as some times it takes a while to see if the trade lived up to the hype. Lets start by looking at the recent blockbuster trade with the Miami Marlins.
Blockbuster trades as mentioned before bring lots of hype and it’s very hard to state which team won the trade. If you had ask most people if they would have made the same deal most people would say yes. I mean it sounded like a win win at the time. In my opinion, it is too early to tell. This is usually the case when prospects are involved because it takes time for them to grow and start performing to their prime abilities in the big leagues. For this trade, the Blue Jays certainly won in the short term. They got game changing pieces that would help the team. Jose Reyes upgraded Yunnel Escobar at the SS position and pitchers Mark Buherle has helped boost the rotation. With the young players going back to a rebuilding team in Miami, it is certainly part of a bigger, long term picture that we wont know for years. Josh Johnson didn’t perform, but we don’t know if the prospects will either. Henderson Alvarez who won many fans during his time in Toronto, has had his ups and downs but is having a career year in Miami including 3 complete game shutouts.
The Blue Jays were in a similar place as the Tampa Bay Rays were this year when they were looking to deal their ace Roy Halladay in 2009. For a player of his caliber they were looking to get the best return possible and that would be prospects that could make a big impact in years to come – maybe not as big as Halladay did for the Blue Jays over the years though. So what did the Blue Jays ended up getting you ask? Well what if I told you that none of the players are on the Blue Jays right now. So the Jays lost this trade right? Well not really. Technically speaking this trade produced current players on the Blue Jays roster. The Jays acquired Kyle Drabek, Travis d’Arnaud and Michael Taylor form the Phillies at the time of the trade. Since then the Blue Jays traded d’Arnaud as a piece to get R.A. Dickey and Michael Taylor was traded for Brett Wallace who turned out to be traded for Anthony Gose. Brett Wallace is a member of the Blue Jays today after all of this. Analyzing this trade is difficult as Roy Halladay’s prime seasons as a Blue Jay were coming to an end anyways. It is hard to say if the Blue Jays could have got more in return in terms of prospects for this trade but regardless the return could have been better. D’Arnaud was arguably the centerpiece of the trade as a top catching prospect and hasn’t lived up to the hype so far as a member of the New York Mets. Power hitting catching prospects are often overrated in the league as there are not many of them in today’s game and many don’t turn out to be the same in the big leagues … just look at J.P. Arencibia who’s struggles could write an article of its own. The Blue Jays believe in Gose’s potential and that will only come with growth and his ability to get on base. If he earns the starting CF role next year it will be good to see what he is capable of doing with his magnificent speed. Kyle Drabek who has battled with injuries doesn’t seem to be able to ever make it back to the big leagues and may never do so again.. at least with the Blue Jays. Roy Halladay ended up signing another contract with the Jays so why do we care right … well it was only one day. His legacy will forever be alive as a Blue Jay and fans can expect his name of the level of excellence in years to come.
Canada’s very own and fans favourite Brett Lawrie didn’t get drafted by the Blue Jays believe it or not. He was part of one of the best trades done by Alex Anthopolous though. Just three short weeks before Christmas of 2010 he was traded to Blue Jays from the Milwaukee Brewers for Shaun Marcum. This acquisition came at a surprise for some as Marcum was performing very well at the top of the rotation for the Blue Jays. He was coming of a 13-8 season in which he was at the top of the league for Walks & Hits per 9IP. Brett Lawrie as we know has been nothing but energetic and full of excitement to watch. The third baseman in today’s game feature a deep crop of gold glove caliber defense and this includes Brett Lawrie at the hot corner for the Blue Jays. His hitting hasn’t really come around to the Blue Jays liking but he is still very young. His style of play concerns people though. His recent string of injuries worries people that it could become a common trend if he doesn’t change the way he plays the game. Lawrie has been a fine addition to the club as Marcum was is no longer performing close to his play as a Blue Jay. Lawrie will continue to be fun to watch for years to come and will hopefully be joined by fellow Canadian Dalton Pompey in a few years.
The knuckleballer who spent his fair share of games in AAA and couldn’t find any success throwing his other arsenal of pitches had a career year in 2013. The problem is that he wasn’t a Blue Jay in 2013. 2013 was the year in which R.A. Dickey would become a household name by winning the CY-Young Award for his remarkable 20-6 season (2.73 ERA). Coming off a career season his ticket price was as high as it could ever be and the Blue Jays were willing to pay for it. This came right after the blockbuster trade with the Marlins and looked as if the Blue Jays were going all in. At the time many people questioned his success in the AL and in a dome and these questions would eventually be answered. The Blue Jays gave up Noah Syndegard – who I should mention was the 12th best prospect going into the 2014 season according to MLB Pipeline. The Blue Jays also gave up recently mentioned Travis d’Arnaud who unlike Syndegard has made it to the big show. His lack of success makes Jays fans feel better but the hype around Syndegard is already growing before he makes his debut. Had the Blue Jays not made this trade it would be uncertain who would be in the rotation now – maybe Todd Redmond or another acquisition? Well despite all the hatred some people give R.A. Dickey, it is certain that when his knuckleball is on, nobody can hit it. Is he our so-called ace? Nope.
I remember hearing about the Blue Jays acquiring Sergio Santos back in December of 2011. He was coming off a monstrous season where he saved 30 games for the White Sox. At the time I was wondering how the Blue Jays pulled off that move after Santos who had a career year and also given the fact the Blue Jays didn’t seem confident with the likes of Frank Francisco as their closer. Looking back now its seems very interesting. Santos has never really solidified himself as a closer for the Blue Jays with Casey Janssen being lights out on a consistent basis. Since the trade Santos has been injured and recently designated for assignment. His issues with his fastball command have been very prevalent but his slider is surely his make or break pitch. For this converted shortstop, Santos still has a high ceiling but hasn’t produced to what Jay’s fans should expect. There were rumors of his departure in what seemed to be a completed trade in the offseason with the Rangers but it was never finalized. The prospect the Blue Jays traded, Nestor Molina, hasn’t made it to the big leagues yet.
As a relatively young Blue Jay fan it would be hard to analyze trades in the franchise’s past. It would be a shame though not to mention the Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter trade for Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez. Alomar is a gold glove wizard and Joe Carter touched them all back in 1993.
Imagine a Blue Jays team without Reyes. Buehrle and Dickey … it is hard to say if the Jays would be playing meaningful games in August. Every team has to make its fair share of trades because it is tough to build a strong team from just homegrown talent. The Rangers have a World Series caliber team and look at the names they have acquired in recent years – Cabrera, Sanchez, Martinez, Kinsler, Scherzer and Price. The Blue Jays have lost some names over the years that would certainly be intriguing on the current roster. Mike Napoli, Mike Aviles and Danny Farquar were all Blue Jays for at least one minute but their time didn’t last long. Similar to trades there are many great offseason signings or contract extensions that prove to help teams. The large mega-contracts tend to come back and burn teams as players lose their productivity on the field.
Remember Ricky Romero? He’s making 7.5 million dollars by the way.