LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The New York Yankees are a scarier team with Giancarlo Stanton, and more to the point they’re a much better team now than they were Friday. Big picture the Stanton trade’s undeniably bad news for the rest of the AL East, including the Toronto Blue Jays.
But on a more immediate level, the deal also impacts a couple of the markets the Blue Jays are active in, and those after-effects could be significant as the Winter Meetings begin at Disney’s Swan and Dolphin Hotel.
First, the trade adds another capable player to a middle infield market that already includes plenty of options. Now that Starlin Castro’s Miami property, he immediately becomes a consideration for teams seeking middle infield depth, joining free agents Eduardo Nunez and Neil Walker and trade chips including Ian Kinsler, Jonathan Villar, Cesar Hernandez, Freddy Galvis and Yangervis Solarte.
Whether or not the Blue Jays have interest in Castro, he’s an option worthy of consideration for the Mets, Angels, Red Sox and any other team seeking second base or utility depth. In theory, that should make it a little easier for the buyers in that market to address their needs.
The Stanton trade has a similar impact on the outfield market, because the Yankees now have more outfielders than they have starting roles. Teams could come calling on the likes of Clint Frazier in the coming weeks, which should theoretically increase leverage for the clubs seeking outfield help.
Generally speaking, it’s pretty a good time to be shopping for an outfielder—at least on paper. The Red Sox are now reportedly willing to part with Jackie Bradley Jr. and the Cardinals essentially have to move an outfielder, maybe two. For teams like the Giants and Athletics that are in the outfield market alongside the Blue Jays, that’s a good thing.
The Blue Jays can probably afford to be most patient of all in the bullpen market. There’s a wide array of bullpen arms available, and while some agents predict continued momentum in an over-heated relief market, it’d be a surprise if the Blue Jays “jump into the inferno” too hastily, to borrow the description of Mets GM Sandy Alderson. Instead of setting the market, the Blue Jays can afford to wait for bargains to emerge, letting other clubs take the first pass.
By way of contrast, the starting pitching market remains crowded, and teams that play the waiting game could end up picking through scraps. The Blue Jays aren’t desperate for big-league starting pitching thanks to Marcus Stroman, J.A. Happ, Marco Estrada, Aaron Sanchez and Joe Biagini. Their triple-A rotation’s also shaping up to be deeper than it was last year thanks to Ryan Borucki, Thomas Pannone and Luis Santos, among others.
Even so, the Blue Jays continue to survey the market for starters, and still hope to add “impact” pitching of some kind before opening day, according to GM Ross Atkins. Considering the uncertainty surrounding Sanchez and Biagini, the pursuit of pitching makes plenty of sense.
But with the Cubs, Orioles, Angels, Rangers, Mariners, Dodgers, Twins, Brewers and Yankees also involved in the starting pitching market there’s plenty of competition for available starters. As Tyler Chatwood’s three-year, $38-million deal indicated, even the mid-tier options will be pricey (the Blue Jays checked on Chatwood, though they aren’t believed to have been among his more aggressive suitors).
The Stanton deal showed that these markets can shift at a moment’s notice. A few hours can change a whole lot at the winter meetings. But for the moment at least, the Yankees-Marlins blockbuster impacts the Blue Jays in ways large and small.