Jay Bird Watching - Russell Martin Traded

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Follow Host Craig Borden on Twitter (@Craigers1221)


Blue Jays Fans were shocked last night as their Canadian team leader was traded back to the team that drafted him the Dodgers. The Blue Jays loose one of their best clubhouse leaders in this trade and a Canadian citizen. The Jays sent 16.4 Million Dollars with Martin to the Dodgers to receive a pair of prospects.

Russell Martin was a center piece to the Blue Jays Playoff runs in 2015 & 2016. Without Martin anchoring the catching position the teams young pitchers might not have excelled to the level needed for the Blue Jays to break their playoff drought. Martin is a class act that knows the game of baseball. Not only was he an elite catcher in his time but carried plenty of offense. All that in a package that knew how to win ball games. The Montreal native will be missed North of the Border but still has plenty of baseball left in him.

On the flip side of the trade the Blue Jays get a pair of youngsters that project well. First Ronny Brito brings high end defensive pro-wise to the middle of the diamond with some solid pop at the dish. He hit 11 home runs in rookie ball last year and at the age of 19 presents a high upside wildcard for the Jays Organization.

Andrew Sopko is a 24 year old RHP that has performed well in the Minors. He had some difficulties adjusting to the AA level this past year but projects as a good depth arm for the organization. The Blue Jays have made it known that they are looking to add arms into the system and this shows they will take a chance on a throw in arm on a trade to meet that point.

In other news David Phelps signed with the Blue Jays the other day. He is looking to join the bullpen after bouncing back from Tommy John Surgery. In a very interesting contract the Blue Jays give him a chance to prove himself along with setting him up for solid pay with performance incentives. This is a great signing for the Jays as they look for live arms to fill out their bullpen.

The Blue Jays have also reached terms with all of their arbitration eligible players.

Joe Biagini = $900,000

Brendan Drury = $1.3 Mil

Ken Giles = $6,300,000

Randal Grichuk = $5 Mil

Kevin Pillar = $5.8 Mil

Aaron Sanchez = $3.9 Mil

Marcus Stroman = $7.4 Mil

Devon Travis = $1.925 Mil

All this and more in the latest episode of Jay Bird Watching. Our Guest Hayden Godfrey joins Craig Borden to talk all the latest news.


Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter (@SouthOfThe6ix)


Blue Jays Trade Russell Martin to the Dodgers

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Article Written by Adam Corsair (@ACorsair21)


Well, there you have it. The core of the 2015 & 2016 teams that revitalized the fanbase for the Toronto Blue Jays is nothing more than a distant memory.

Out of José Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Josh Donaldson, David Price, Troy Tulowitzki, John Gibbons, and Russell Martin, the final domino to fall was perhaps one of the greatest catchers to ever wear a Jays’ uniform.

As of this writing, it is unknown just how much of Martin’s 2019 salary of $20MM the Jays will eat, but one can assume that it will be a lot. If I were a betting man, I’d wager somewhere between the $15MM-$18MM range. Of course, that could be off, but that seems to fit. To boot, according to Jeff Passan, the Jays will be eating a “significant portion” of the salary.

In return, the Blue Jays will add to their already robust farm system with shortstop Ronny Brito and RHP Andrew Sopko, the latter of which has reached as high as Double-A. Sopko split time between A & AA ball, putting up a cumulative 3.90 ERA over 117.2 innings with 121 strikeouts. Brito was ranked as the 23rd overall prospect in the Dodgers’ system and hit a line of .295/.359/.496 in 61 games with the DSL Dodgers and rookie-ball Ogden. It’s never a bad thing to bring in more talent for a team’s farm system; especially one already littered with up-the-middle depth. You just never know, really. Here’s some more interesting tidbits, courtesy of Ben Nicholson-Smith -

The bottom line is that something like this had to be done. The writing was on the wall ever since the Jays released Tulo not too long ago. It has nothing to do with the Front Office’s “desire to purge the team of anything Anthopoulos related,” as some people may want to believe. Rather, it has everything to do with kick-starting a youth movement that (hopefully) will develop into a new core of players that aim to take the Jays into heights we long for them to reach.

Danny Jansen seems to immediately benefit from this move, even though he already projected to be the team’s starting catcher (according to their depth chart before this trade was made). He’ll presumably take the reigns henceforth and be groomed to, hopefully, be the team’s main guy behind the dish for the foreseeable future. Reese McGuire will also get his opportunity to prove his value for the team in the same role. Basically, it’s open season behind the plate and it, personally, has me salivating to see what becomes of it.

Also, Luke Maile will be in the mix, but I doubt at a high rate.

For Martin, it’s an opportunity to help an already strong LA Dodgers team and maybe even chase a World Series ring. He gets to go back to the team that drafted him to (probably) finish his career; full-circle, if you will. But it’s important to note that, without Martin, the Jays would have never been able to achieve their playoff runs in 2015 & ‘16. Remember, it was Martin who led off in the bottom of the 7th inning in Game 5 of the ALDS and hit the ground-ball that was bobbled by Elvis Andrus that ultimately led to Bautista’s infamous bat-flip homerun. His pitch framing is second to none and his leadership was contagious. Simply put, he was a joy to watch and was/is someone that we regard as what we all expect from a Toronto Blue Jay - class, poise, and dignity.

No bones about it.

With that, I wish Russ nothing but the best of luck. If he can earn himself a ring with the Dodgers, more power to him. He, without a doubt, deserves it.

Also, something to keep in mind -

UPDATE 7:26 pm - The Blue Jays will be paying $16.4MM of the $20MM remaining on Russell Martin’s contract. The Dodgers will be paying the remaining $3.6MM.


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Jay Bird Watching - Blue Jays New Year's Resolutions

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Follow Host Craig Borden on Twitter (@Craigers1221)


In this week’s episode of Jay Bird Watching, the gang discusses what New Year's Resolutions the Blue Jays could make in order to squeak out some extra wins in 2019. Our host Craig Borden was joined by Adam Corsair of South of the 6ix and Hayden Godfrey of Jays Journal.

The Blue Jays just signed Matt Shoemaker to a one year deal. The gang unanimously agreed that this was a solid signing for the Jays. He brings some veteran presence along with someone that possesses some solid upside. Shoemaker projects to be a member of the Blue Jays’ rotation as it currently sits and could be someone that excels with a change of scenery.

Shoemaker is projected to throw around 100 innings this season according to the main projection sites. On Rotochamp.com they are showing a 7-6 record on the season, with 100 strikeouts. This would put him at an ERA around 4.00 and a WHIP around his career average of 1.20. The Blue Jays are a team looking for MLB ready arms to fill out their innings on the mound this season and Shoemaker is an incredible sign on a 1-year deal. His basement numbers is a fail like Jamie Garcia but has the potential to surprise Jays fans like Marco Estrada in 2015.

Now the focus of the show, which was 2019 Blue Jays New Year’s Resolutions. Adam stepped up to the plate first to discuss how the home run ball needs to play for the Jays this season. Regardless that the Jays big thumpers are gone from the days of old, the Jays still have plenty of guys that can pop 20 homers this season. He would really love to see someone run away with it this season and uncork 30. Smoak is probably the best candidate for this but Vlad has some very lofty projections to live up to. Time will tell.

Hayden brought up how the Jays are scraping to fill up the inning on the mound and how do they attack that? It could be with these opener/bullpen games as they truck every rookie arm out during a game once every 5 days. With a new manager in Charlie Montoyo, who is a product of the Rays’ system, this only becomes more likely. The opener has worked for the Rays in the past season and was even adopted by the Brewers in the playoffs.

The Blue Jays could improve at the plate by striking out less and putting the ball in play. Fewer strikeouts can lead to more batters reaching base. The Jays were in the middle of the ballpark on strikeouts last season and in the bottom of walks as a team. With a young team, more baserunners will be key to success.

Listen in to this just over a half hour long episode as the team hashes out these fun conversations.

Happy New Year Blue Jay's Fans!!


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SOT6 Podcast - Episode 89

Follow Host Adam Corsair on Twitter (@ACorsair21)


EPISODE 89

"OFF-SEASON ROUND TABLE"

TORONTO BLUE JAYs talk

Off-Season Toronto Blue Jays Talk

  • The Off-Season for the Jays has been, for lack of a better word, unexciting, but it doesn't lack a lot to talk about. With the Blue Jays making moves in order to free up space for the young talent to establish themselves in the big leagues, they had to do so at the cost of many familiar faces. With the release of Troy Tulowitzki, the trade rumors of Russell Martin, Aaron Sanchez, and Marcus Stroman, as well as the lack of any big time splashes, the team certainly seems to still be in the rebuilding stages.

  • To discuss these and other topics, host Adam Corsair is joined by Craig Borden --- host of Jays Bird Watching Podcast, Ryan Andrews - writer for Jays From The Couch and host of the Locked on Jays Podcast, and Brendan Panikkar of BP Toronto and Jays Journal for a special ROUND TABLE discussion.

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @NeoAC18

Visit Ryan's work: HERE

Subscribe to the Locked on Blue Jays Podcast: HERE

Follow Brendan on Twitter: @Panikkar37

Visit Brendan's Work: HERE & HERE

Follow Craig Borden on Twitter: @Craigers1221

Visit Craig's work: HERE

Visit the Jays Bird Watching Gamecast: @BirdWatchingGC


Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter (@SouthOfThe6ix)


Wednesday Wallop - Winter Meetings Wrap

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Follow Host Craig Borden (@Criagers1221)


In the latest episode of the Wednesday Wallop, Craig Borden and Brendan Panikkar discussed everything that occurred with the Blue Jays’ Winter Meetings. The rumors are swirling now in the Troy Tulowitzki fallout as the Jays gear up for their final push of the off-season.

The Blue Jays need pitching and now that the main players on the market have found their new homes, it could be time for the Jays to strike on a decent innings eater. Free agents Lance Lynn and J.A. Happ fit this mold perfectly, but the Jays were clearly outbid. They are also in this wait-and-see how the rest of the market plays out. The market for Dallas Keuchel has yet to surface and with options like James Shields and Gio Gonzalez, there are some decent players that fit what the Jays need

The Blue Jays’ payroll is going to change a ton this season regardless of the Tulo and Russell  Martin money. The Blue Jays could have a payroll under 100 million for the first time in a decade. This is even with the assumption that the 10 arbitration eligible players get a substantial bump in pay.

With this money, the Jays could decide to find a few key veterans that could maximize the window for them to compete in the early part of the Vlad era. The Jays could have benefited from grabbing someone like Micheal Brantley or Matt Harvey. The two of them have since signed new contracts with ball clubs and are off the market, but they represent solid Mid-Tier players the Jays could use to increase their ceiling on this seasons team even.

The looming news of possible Blue Jays’ fan favorites being traded has put some on edge. If this team is to improve, it could be time for Kevin Pillar to be traded to make room for players like Anthony Alford and company. The odd trade rumor is that Aaron Sanchez appears to be on the block. For a team that needs to eat up innings on the mound, this one proves as a curious move. Would these trades signal something else to come in the next few weeks? If these guys are going to be moved, one would think it would happen soon so the Jays can act accordingly to fill the holes they leave.

Speaking of the young players, Santiago Espinal was featured on MLBpipeline.com's Top Ten Prospects that should take off this season. Espinal was acquired in the trade that sent Steve Pearce to Boston. He has since been hitting hard line drives all over the field and playing a solid shortstop. His power has come around over the last season as well, belting 10 homers this season and really showing off his gap to gap power.

All this and more right here on the "Wednesday Wallop." All of us here at Jay Bird Watching are ready to talk Blue Jays baseball all the time. Dive into the comments below and do not forget to find us on all the main podcast websites and click those subscribe buttons. We will be here all off-season long!


Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter (@SouthOfThe6ix)


The Time Isn't Right To Trade Stroman or Sanchez

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Article Written by Hudson Stewart (@hudson_stewart6)


Over the course of last week’s MLB Winter Meetings, the names of Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez were continuously brought up in trade talks. Teams such as the Reds and Braves have shown interest in them, but there doesn’t appear to be a deal close with either one of them. It seems like the Blue Jays are asking for a lot in exchange for Stroman or Sanchez in a trade, and that’s why it seems unlikely that a trade is made anytime soon.

Regardless of the fact that a trade isn’t likely at this point, it seems pretty crazy to me that the Blue Jays are willing to trade either of Stroman or Sanchez right now. Both of them are incredible young pitchers, each with 2 years left of team control, but they’re also both coming off of injury-riddled seasons where they barely pitched. The two made a combined 39 starts last season and didn’t pitch particularly well in those starts either. Stroman had a 5.54 ERA last season and Sanchez had a 4.89 ERA. The injuries have been especially frustrating in Sanchez’s case, who had a second straight season that was filled with injuries.

I’m not against the idea of trading them, in fact I think the Jays should trade them when the time is right. But right now, their value is at an all-time low and the return you’d get for them in a trade would be insufficient. If the Jays were to wait until the trade deadline this season, they could probably get a big return for at least one of Stroman or Sanchez, depending on which one pitched better/was healthier. I definitely think that these two can get back to their form from a few years ago, but the team needs to be patient and wait for that to happen, instead of just trading them in December.

That being said, I really don’t expect them to part ways with Stroman or Sanchez at this point, despite all of the rumors. They could just be testing the market on these guys, which is a normal thing to do, but I really hope that they’re not seriously considering trading one of them unless a team blows them away with an offer.

It also doesn’t make much sense to go into next season down another starter, considering the Jays’ rotation is already short on depth. Assuming neither Stroman or Sanchez gets dealt, the Jays will go into 2019 with a rotation centred around those two, Ryan Borucki, Sean Reid-Foley, and any potential free agent starter that they sign. I really like Borucki, but I’m not ready to make him the No.1 or No. 2 starter in this rotation just yet, and trading one of Stroman or Sanchez would put him in a tough spot for his sophomore season.

Speaking of free agency, the Jays have been very quiet in that area so far. According to Ross Atkins, they’ve “made some offers” but we haven’t seen any signings yet. Other than the release of Troy Tulowitzki, the Jays have been extremely quiet, which makes me think that they’ll probably announce some sort of signing soon. I doubt they’ll sign one of the big starters like Dallas Keuchel, but I’d be satisfied if they were able to get a veteran depth starter who could eat up some innings this season.


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Jay Bird Watching - Blue Jays Should Be Hall of Famers

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Follow Host Craig Borden on Twitter (@Craigers1221)


We have a hell of a special show for you as we brought together a great group for our discussion today. Blue Jays fans we were able to get Ian Hunter of Blue Jays Nation & the Daily Hive, Ari Shapiro of the Jays Journal Podcast, and Adam Corsair of South of the 6ix to join us for a who should make the Baseball Hall of Fame if the bar has been lowered by the Era Committee.

First on the plate as always we discuss Toronto Blue Jays News. The Jays have been pretty quiet during the winter meetings thus far. Their only "splash" has been the release of Troy Tulowitzki. The ripples are still fresh and the Jays are on the hook for $38 Mil because of it. In a rare move that helps both sides the Jays now have the roster flexibility that they need to give Lourdes Gurriel Jr. consistent at-bats.

Stroman and Sanchez appear to have a rather large price but that has not stopped the Reds from knocking on the door so far. It has been reported that the Jays are using the James Paxton deal as a comparable. Is that asking a little too much? Russell Martin is the lone veteran left from the recent playoff push. Is he the next to be moved?

Now the meat of the conversation. Harold Baines has been voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Today's Era Committee. How has a career 38.7 WAR player been elected into baseball legends? If this is indeed the new bar for the Hall of Fame where do the Toronto Blue Jays legends rank in comparison. This is what we all dove into during the talks but the below list was compiled before the show. After Roberto Alomar and soon to be elected Roy Halladay are in the Hall of Fame, what other Blue Jays should be joining them seeing stats are secondary to enshrinement now.

As players that happened to play part of the career with the Blue Jays this is how their full careers in WAR rank. All these players have a higher WAR then Harold Baines.

Roger Clemens - 139.6 WAR - Blue Jays WAR 20.3

John Olerud - 58.2 WAR - Blue Jays WAR 22.6

Dave Stieb - 56.7 WAR - Blue Jays WAR 57.1

Fred McGriff - 52.6 WAR - Blue Jays WAR 19.4

Jimmy Key - 49.1 WAR - Blue Jays WAR 29.8

Devon White - 47.3 WAR - Blue Jays WAR 22.3

Tony Fernandez - 45.3 WAR - Blue Jays WAR 37.5

Carlos Delgado - 44.4 WAR - Blue Jays WAR 36.8

Jesse Barfield - 39.4 WAR - Blue Jays WAR 29.5

Special thanks to all of our guests. It truly was a pleasure!


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Jay Bird Watching - "Breaking News - Expectations Tulo"

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Follow Host Craig Borden on Twitter (@Craigers1221)


It is official Blue Jays fans. The Jays’ brass is committing to the youth movement fully. Yesterday, Troy Tulowitzki was released by the team and is still on track to make $38 Million over the next two seasons from the club. This came as a shock to many fans that were at least expecting Tulo to remain with the club and play for a roster spot this Spring.

For Tulo, this will signify a change of scenery. He will find a team in the Majors that is willing to take a shot on him for the league minimum pay this season rather easily. This is a guy that hit 24 home runs and drove in 79 runs in 2016. That was not too long ago but a lost season to double heel surgery had the Blue Jays looking to clear his roster spot. Tulo will find work elsewhere and it appears that the A's, Mariners, and others are already knocking on the door at the Winter Meetings.

For the Blue Jays, this is clearly a move to give full-time work to Lourdes Gurriel, Jr. Gurriel Jr. took to shortstop very quickly at the MLB level last season and excelled. He went on to triple slash his way to a respectable .281/.309/.446 in 65 games last season. This while hitting 11 homers and had the longest hitting streak in recent Blue Jays history.

The Blue Jays also have Richard Urena, who could now slide into the backup role for the infield. With Tulo gone, Gurriel Jr. and Urena are the depth for the moment. Bo Bichette is looming in the minors and will likely challenge for that position this Spring. Many would guess that Bo starts in Triple-A Buffalo for some further seasoning though.

This was a good move for both sides. The Blue Jays get the roster room that they need even if they had to pay out the nose for it. Tulo gets a chance to catch fire somewhere else and get away from the astroturf at the Rogers Centre. This is a rare win-win situation for all parties involved. Tulo - thanks for the memories and we wish you the best.


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Did I Miss Something? Pete Walker is Still Here?

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Article Written by Craig Borden (@Craigers1221)


I assume that I am not the only one that has noticed this, but somehow Pete Walker is still the pitching coach of the Toronto Blue Jays. First, I want to say I have no issue with Pete Walker and I think he has served well as the Blue Jays’ pitching coach over the years. I am just shocked that he is still locked in this position for a number of reasons. We will discuss those reasons in depth during this article.

Just to fill in the history on Pete Walker, he was a Blue Jays’ pitcher for a number of years but a shoulder injury more or less ended his pitching career. Since, he has been a Minor League pitching coach with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in which he helped them win the Eastern League Championship and continued that roll in Toronto since the end of the 2012 season. Walker has been known for helping keep the pitcher's ERA to a minimum over his tenure. The Jays’ team ERA has not eclipsed 4.85 and that was over this past season with 14 different starters.

With Walker having a nice pedigree and clear skill for working with younger pitchers, I can definitely understand why new Blue Jays' manager, Charlie Montoyo, was interested in keeping him. Especially when most of the troubles this past season were due to the number of different pitchers and generally bad arms that were filling up innings. It did appear that things were going better once the youngsters began to come up in the late months of the season. Ryan Borucki and others really helped eat up innings at the end of the season.

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Now let us address the confusion on why we are amazed that Walker has a job still. First, I am shocked that a team that is pushing for the future and new baseball ideas is even interested. Atkins and Shapiro have made it abundantly clear that part of the reason they wanted to move on from John Gibbons was the fact they wanted to get someone more metric focused in the dugout; hence, why Montoyo has been brought in. One would have guessed that with Walker being one of Gibbons’ go-to guys that he fit the “Old School Baseball” mold. I for one have zero idea about Walker’s baseball views, but this seemed to be one of those guilty by association ideas more than anything.

It is also amazing that Walker is still here given the terrible performance of the team over the past few seasons. The Blue Jays have gone from an 80+ win team from 2014 - 2016 to a sub 80 win team rather quickly. Yes, there are many contributing factors in that equation, but the pitching staff saw their average runs allowed per game increase an entire run in two seasons. Most of that once again can be attributed to the quality of arms eating up the main bulk of the innings, but it is the pitching coach's job to ensure all pitchers are performing to the lofty expectation that the front office led Blue Jays fans to over the past few years.

How has the handling of Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman not landed on Walker’s lap? It has been no secret that Sanchez and Stroman have had a rough two years. Both of them have struggled to stay healthy and have had major issues with consistency as well. Part of a pitching coach’s job is to look for possible hitches or mechanical issues with his pitchers. With the pair having so many issues with health and consistency, one would jump to delivery issues possibly causing some of these issues. This pair was supposed to be a big part of any possible Blue Jays success and they could not even stay on the field.'

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While we are talking about mishandling of arms, I think we need to bring up Joe Biagini. Biagini has been flip-flopped between the pen and rotation more times than my 8-year old daughter changes her mind on her outfit. The Blue Jays have more or less ruined Biagini over the past couple of years after having a stellar debut in the bullpen during the 2016 season. After a season in which he had 67.2 innings with a 3.06 ERA out of the pen, they tossed him into the rotation. After a few starts, fans began to cringe when he took the mound. This was well justified as he would close out the 2017 season with a 6.00 ERA in 119.2 innings. This should have squashed the idea of Biagini as a starter, but for whatever reason, he came out to pitch 4 more starts in 2018 and had plenty of them with the Bisons in Triple-A. Walker had to be a part of this conversation and that should have been seen as a flag to the Jays’ Brass. Biagini needs to prove himself to this new management team this spring, or should be out of a job. Should his pitching coach be gone as well?

Is Walker still lingering to possibly bring J.A. Happ back? It is no secret that the Blue Jays would like to bring back Happ, but after an incredible season and success in the Bronx, is he out of the Jays’ market? The Blue Jays might have to play the right cards to get Happ to come to a team that is not a clear-cut competitor for the 2019 season. The Blue Jays could be playing off the fact that Happ really enjoyed his time in Toronto and reuniting with a friend and good coach like Pete Walker could be the icing on the cake. For now, this could be a reason why no official notice has been said on Walker from Montoyo.

The Blue Jays have chosen to keep Pete Walker for the time being and there are plenty of good reasons to do so. He is good with young talent and has been able to build winning staffs with minimal talent on paper to start the season. For every good reason to keep Walker, there just happens to be an argument against it. That being said, I am still shocked that he is around and would not be surprised if he is on a short leash with an entirely new management core in the dugout. Winning cures all issues, but over the past two seasons, the Blue Jays have not been winning and Walker could share part of that blame.


Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter (@SouthOfThe6ix)


Blue Jays: 2018 in Review

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Article Written by Hudson Stewart (@hudson_stewart6)


The Blue Jays officially ended their 2018 season Sunday in Tampa Bay, with a 9-4 loss to the Rays. The Jays finished the year in 4th place in the A.L. East with a record of 73-89. Overall, this was a very disappointing year for the Jays, and a year that sort of signaled the beginning of the rebuild for this team. We saw some familiar faces leave town, but we also saw an influx of youth in the team as the year went on. In this article, I’ll unpack everything that happened for this year’s Blue Jays; from what went wrong to some bright spots, and also a look ahead to next year.

Season Overview

Unlike last season, where they started the year 1-9, the Jays actually started the 2018 season pretty well. After 17 games, they were 12-5 and appeared to be a team that would at least challenge for a playoff spot. After that though, the injuries began to pile up and the Jays would never really get back on track. Key players like Stroman, Sanchez, and Donaldson were bit by the injury bug, and the Jays weren’t able to keep pace with the rest of the A.L. East. Things continued to go poorly through May, when Roberto Osuna was charged with domestic assault against his girlfriend. Osuna was pitching well once again out of the closer role, but after this came out, Osuna’s Blue Jays career was over, even though we didn’t know it at the time.

As the season progressed, it became clearer and clearer that this team wasn’t headed to the postseason. Thus, we were able to see some of the Jays’ young prospects come up and play. Among many others, Danny Jansen, Ryan Borucki, Rowdy Tellez, and Thomas Pannone were all very impressive in their time in the MLB. As the season went on, John Gibbons, who was managing in his last season with the Blue Jays, began to take away playing time from veterans like Russell Martin and Kendrys Morales, and give it to the younger players in order to see what they could do. During the games in September specifically, Jays fans were able to see what the team will likely look like for years to come, with guys like Billy McKinney, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Danny Jansen getting a lot of playing time. It may not have resulted in many wins, but I’ll take watching the prospects play over the veterans with nothing else to prove.


The Trade Deadline

Like I said earlier, the Jays had to part ways with some familiar faces this year, and a lot of that came at the trading deadline(s).

In June, the Jays traded away Steve Pearce to the Red Sox in exchange for SS Santiago Espinal. This was a minor move, but it was a sign of things to come.

Then, near the trade deadline, Toronto dealt Seung-Hwan Oh to the Rockies in exchange for 2 prospects: Forrest Wall and Chad Spangenberg. It’s hard to tell if either of those prospects will turn into anything, but anytime you can get 2 pieces in exchange for a middle-tier reliever like Oh, I’d say it’s a good deal.

Next, the Blue Jays traded J.A. Happ - the veteran lefty who was great in his 2nd stint in Toronto - to the Yankees in exchange for outfielder Billy McKinney and infielder Brandon Drury. Happ has been great in New York since the trade, so obviously it worked out for them, but I also think the Jays did well here. They got Drury, who was hurt for most of the year, but could compete for an infield spot next seaso. Also, Billy McKinney, who looks like he’ll make the Jays next year and be a key part of their outfield. In 36 games in Toronto, McKinney hit .252 with 6 homers and 13 RBIs, while batting in the leadoff spot most of the time.

On the day before the July trade deadline, the Jays sent Roberto Osuna, in the midst of his legal case to Houston, in exchange for 3 players. First, they got their closer, Ken Giles. Second, they got an AA pitcher in Hector Perez, who was in the Astros top 10 prospects before being dealt, and also got David Paulino, a prospect who briefly pitched with the Jays in September. In this situation, the Jays were trading from a position where they needed to get rid of Osuna, and they were still able to do pretty well. Not only did they get Giles - who was perfect in save opportunities this season - but they got 2 pitching prospects who could potentially turn into something.

Right before the trade deadline was reached, the Jays made 2 minor moves, trading Aaron Loup to the Phillies in exchange for pitcher Jacob Waguespack, and then traded John Axford to the Dodgers for pitcher Corey Copping.

Lastly, the Jays made a deal that sent fans into a frenzy, when they traded 2015 A.L. MVP Josh Donaldson to Cleveland in exchange for Julian Merryweather, a minor league starter coming off of Tommy John. Now, obviously, the Jays didn’t handle this situation the right way. Looking back, they should’ve traded Donaldson earlier and gotten a better return. But in this situation, they needed to get rid of him, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that what they got back wasn’t much.

Bright Spots

It’s usually hard to find bright spots for a team that finished much lower than they were expected to, but thanks to how many young players joined the team this year, there’s actually quite a few. Here are 3 that really stood out to me.

  1. Ryan Borucki- Borucki was called up much earlier than the rest of the prospects, which meant he had more time to show what he could do. He made 17 big league starts this year, and in that time, he posted a 3.87 ERA. He wasn’t even up here for half of the season, but going into next year, I’ve got a ton of confidence in this guy.

  2. Lourdes Gurriel Jr.- Gurriel was called up in late April and played 65 games for the Jays this year. He suffered two injuries during this season, but when he was healthy, Gurriel was a very productive player. He had a .281 average this year to go along with 11 home runs and 35 RBI. There will definitely be a cluster of infielders next year, but I’d expect Gurriel to get a lot of playing time.

  3. Ken Giles- Like I said earlier, Giles was acquired in the Roberto Osuna trade. His ERA doesn’t jump out at you as being very good, and that’s mostly because of how bad he is in non-save situations. But when he’s in a save situation, Giles gets the job done. In 14 save opportunities since joining the Blue Jays, Giles was been a perfect 14/14. Giles still has 2 years left on his deal, so I would expect to see him closing a lot of games for the Jays over the next couple of seasons.

2019 Outlook

You never know what could happen, but making the playoffs isn’t likely for next year’s Jays. I expect them to be a bit better, (78-80 wins) but I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect a team of mostly kids to leapfrog over the Rays, Yankees, or Red Sox. With that being said, there is still plenty to be excited about in 2019. First of all, we will see Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the big leagues for the first time. That alone is exciting, but we can also expect guys like Billy McKinney and Sean Reid-Foley to take a step forward. There are definitely some holes in this team, like the starting rotation where they need to add someone in free agency, but I could still see the 2019 Jays being a fun team to watch, even if they’re not going to make the playoffs.


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