Article Written by Hudson Stewart (@hudson_stewart6)
With the Blue Jays currently sitting at 30-38 and out of the playoff race, the focus of many fans has turned to what the team will do at this year’s trade deadline. The Jays have many pending free agents for this upcoming off-season and it’s very plausible that we could see many of them moved to other teams.
Trade Candidate #1: Josh Donaldson
A year or two ago, Josh Donaldson would be a guy that many teams would covet in a trade. He won the MVP award in 2015, and was great in 2016 and 2017. However, this season has been filled with injuries for Donaldson, and when he has played, he hasn’t looked like himself. The reality is that teams won’t be giving up a lot in return for an aging injured third baseman who’s only under contract until the end of this season. That doesn’t mean the Jays won’t move him - they still could; but they won’t be getting a lot in return if the do.
Trade Candidate #2: J.A. Happ
In a very inconsistent starting rotation, J.A. Happ has been one of the only bright spots for the Jays this season. He’s been healthy throughout the year so far and has been very effective, with a 3.48 ERA and a record of 8-3. Happ is a guy that could be a big addition for a contending team. He isn’t an ace caliber pitcher that you would get, but he’s a solid No. 2 or 3 starter that could fit into most rotations. With the way he’s been pitching lately, Happ’s trade value is at its peak right now. If he continues to succeed over the next 2 months, he could be a big trade asset for the Blue Jays.
Trade Candidate #3: Marco Estrada
Estrada is another guy who has an expiring contract. He re-signed with the Jays on a 1-year deal last September, hoping that the team would be contending, but that isn’t looking too good right now. He doesn’t have great trade value right now, with an ERA of 5.09, but Estrada was an extremely good postseason pitcher for the Jays in 2015 and ‘16, and that could be attractive to some teams. The highest I could see him in a contending team’s rotation is at the No. 4 spot, where he could potentially make 1 start in every postseason series (In a Game 4).
Trade Candidate #4: Justin Smoak
Smoak’s contract is up after this season, but there is a club option for 2019, so the Jays could hang on to him. He had a great season last year, and even earned an All-Star spot, with 38 home runs, 90 RBIs, and a .270 batting average. However, he’s regressed so far this year, only hitting .229 with 9 homers and 33 RBIs. Smoak’s another guy who’s value has declined this year, but I could still see him being a player of interest for another team. He won’t be a middle of the order bat for a contender, but Smoak could potentially be a good pinch-hitter or defensive replacement.
Obviously, the Blue Jays wish they were contending right now, but the reality is that’s not happening. They have to look to improve the organization in other ways. One of the best ways to do that right now is by trading away pending free agents for prospects in return. Out of the four guys I listed in this article, the only one I think will get a lot in return for the Jays is J.A. Happ, so moving him should be a priority for the team right now. With some good prospects already in the system, adding to that will be a key for the Jays, and there’s a definitely an opportunity to do that here.
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