As the Toronto Blue Jays searched for talent before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, they considered more than 600 players.
The August trade market isn’t typically so active, but it still provides general managers with a chance to tinker. Not surprisingly, Ross Atkins said Monday that he expects to be among those following the waiver activity in the weeks ahead.
Complicating matters is the fact that players have to be placed on waivers to be traded after July 31. Once on waivers, players can be moved to the claiming team or, if unclaimed, anywhere at all (full details here, via Mike Wilner). As a result, deals more often involve players whose salaries exceed their on-field value. The likes of Sonny Gray and Jose Quintana aren’t traded in August.
A closer look at the Blue Jays’ roster reveals a few potential August trade chips, some more realistic than others…
$18-million salary in 2017 + $500,000 buyout for 2018 mutual option
The Blue Jays have placed Bautista on waivers, but that’s standard procedure this time of year and he’d still have to approve any trade. Considering that Bautista’s hitting just .216/.325/.381 this year, it’s hard to envision a rival team surrendering major value in a trade. And considering Bautista’s status as a franchise icon in Toronto, it’d be tough to sell the fan base on a marginal return or a salary dump. Given those limitations, there doesn’t appear to be an easy match.
$6.25-million salary in 2017 + $6.25-million salary in 2018
In 36 games since returning from the disabled list, Pearce is hitting .303/.372/.533 with seven home runs — two of which were walk-off grand slams. Safe to say the lefty masher could help a contending team. But when Pearce was traded last year, all the Rays got back was Jonah Heim, a catcher in high-A who’s not considered a prospect. This time, the Blue Jays would presumably need a stronger return to seriously consider dealing Pearce.
$14.5-million salary in 2017
Although some opposing teams showed interest in Estrada ahead of the trade deadline, the Blue Jays didn’t find a match in a late-developing market for starters. On paper he’d look like a potential August trade candidate if he could string a few strong starts together, and yet Atkins spoke about the possibility of extending Estrada shortly after the deadline. That option makes a trade seem less likely for now (more on Estrada here, via Jeff Blair).
$10-million salary in 2017 + $23-million in salary from 2018-19
Morales brings offensive value as a switch-hitter with 20 home runs who projects as an above-average bat for the rest of the season. Even so, he doesn’t help you on defence or on the bases and there’s still a substantial amount remaining on that contract. The Royals might have been a fit on paper if they hadn’t acquired Melky Cabrera, but at this stage it’s hard to see a fit among AL contenders.
$13-million salary in 2017 + $13-million salary in 2018
Given that the Blue Jays plan to contend in 2018, they’re expected to hold onto Happ even if he draws interest.
$2,887,500-million salary in 2017
Barney, who joined the Blue Jays in a September trade two seasons ago, could appeal to teams seeking a versatile bench piece. The presence of Rob Refsnyder might make it easier for the Blue Jays to part with Barney, who will hit free agency after the season.
$14-million salary in 2017
Montero didn’t have much value when the Blue Jays acquired him for a player to be named later or cash considerations in July. Since then he has just three hits in 36 at-bats, so his trade value remains low.
$5.5-million salary in 2017 + arbitration eligible in 2018
After posting an on-base percentage between .349 and .356 in each of his first five seasons, Aoki’s OBP has dropped off to .323. Safe to say his trade value has diminished, too.