Blue Jays trade Aledmys Diaz to Astros for right-hander Trent Thornton

Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Aledmys Diaz (1) reacts after hitting a solo home run against the Baltimore Orioles. (Frank Gunn/CP)

TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays began alleviating their middle-infield glut while simultaneously building up their pitching depth by sending shortstop Aledmys Diaz to the Houston Astros for triple-A right-hander Trent Thornton on Saturday.

Thornton, 25, has posted a 4.23 ERA over four minor-league seasons, with 8.0 strikeouts per nine innings and a 1.7 walks per nine frames. The fifth-round pick in 2015 pitched at triple-A Fresno this past season, pushing his K/9 to a career best 8.8 over 124.1 innings.

In the Arizona Fall League, Thornton logged an additional 15.2 frames, allowing seven earned runs and 20 strikeouts. Since he’s Rule 5 eligible, the Blue Jays must add him to their 40-man roster ahead of Tuesday’s deadline for the filing of reserve lists.

“We felt that this represented a good opportunity to use an area of depth to acquire a player that can be a part of our pitching core,” GM Ross Atkins said via text. “Trent is someone that we’ve targeted for some time, and are confident that his deep repertoire and strike-throwing ability allows him to be a factor for our major-league rotation in the near term.”

Astros GM Jeff Luhnow told Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle that Thornton had been been “on the radar for a lot of teams. He’s a valuable guy that can probably pitch in a big-league rotation next year.”

Diaz, 28, gives the Astros a potential replacement for free-agent utilityman Marwin Gonzalez. He posted a .756 OPS in 130 games while playing short and third for the Blue Jays.

His departure suggests the Blue Jays intend to give Lourdes Gurriel Jr. a chance to be their regular shortstop next season. The rookie Cuban and Richard Urena are the only primary shortstops they have remaining with big-league experience not including Troy Tulowitzki, who remains a question mark as he works his way back from heel surgery on both feet.

Also around the infield, the Blue Jays have Brandon Drury, Devon Travis and non-tender candidate Yangervis Solarte with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. ready for the hot corner and Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio, among others, coming.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.