When the MLB trade deadline hits at 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday, the Toronto Blue Jays will have made decisions that will affect the franchise for years to come.
Even in the unlikely scenario that they stand pat without making a single deal, that inaction will have ripple effects that extend beyond 2022.
The trade market has a finite number of players, but there are a plethora of possible avenues to pursue ranging from a deal for a superstar to some modest bullpen upgrades. To best understand how important the trade deadline could affect the Blue Jays in the future, we thought we’d take a look at the consequences of all the deadline deals this front office has made.
Although their moves in 2016, 2020, and 2021 are most instructive because they were buyers contending for a playoff spot those seasons, there’s something to be gleaned from examining the entire history year-by-year.
For the purposes of this exercise, we’re also counting trades that happened a few days before the deadline as well as they are 'deadline deals' in spirit.
Additions: RP Joaquin Benoit, SP Francisco Liriano, SP/RP Scott Felman, C Reese McGuire, OF Harold Ramirez, SP/RP Mike Bolsinger, OF Melvin Upton Jr.
Subtractions: RP Drew Storen, SP Drew Hutchison, SP Guadalupe Chavez, RP Jesse Chavez, SP/RP Hansel Rodriguez
2022 ramifications: Unsurprisingly none of the players the Blue Jays acquired are still with the team, although it’s worth noting that Reese McGuire filled in admirably behind the plate at times, and the Blue Jays turned him into Zack Collins, who remains on the team today.
Considering Collins has come to the plate just three times since returning to Toronto’s roster on June 25, it would be a stretch to say he’s currently making an impact, but he is present.
The most important piece here is Liriano, but his importance falls under '2017.'
Additions: OF Teoscar Hernandez, OF Nori Aoki, SP/RP Thomas Pannone, 2B/OF Samad Taylor
Subtractions: SP Francisco Liriano, RP Joe Smith
2022 ramifications: This is the big one. Hernandez is the jewel of the Blue Jays' 2017-2019 rebuild, and exactly the type of player you’d hope to get at the deadline as a seller.
The outfielder had some early bumps in the road — especially defensively — but ultimately blew away all reasonable expectations after joining the Blue Jays. Since returning from a demotion to triple-A on June 5, 2019, Hernandez has a 132 wRC+, the 20th-best mark among qualified hitters.
He’s a two-time Silver Slugger, an all-star, and someone who’s on the verge of earning a hefty contract, whether it’s with the Blue Jays or not. FanGraphs estimates his on-field production for Toronto has already been worth $80.1 million.
This deadline could end up looking even better for the Blue Jays if Taylor ends up making a big-league contribution. The versatile 24-year-old has been a roughly average hitter at triple-A this season after breaking out at double-A in 2021. His power and speed remain interesting, even if strikeouts are a concern.
Additions: OF Billy McKinney, 3B Brandon Drury, RP David Paulino, RP Hector Perez, RP Ken Giles, RP Corey Copping, SP/RP Jacob Waguespack, OF Forrest Wall, 1B Chad Spanberger
Subtractions: SP J.A. Happ, RP Roberto Osuna, RP John Axford, RP Aaron Loup, RP Seunghwan Oh
2022 ramifications: This deadline included the acquisition of prospects and young players the team likely hoped would be contributing four years later, but it didn’t work out that way.
McKinney and Drury were unproductive. Paulino and Perez never really broke through. Waguespack got some run for a few bad Blue Jays teams but never had the stuff to stick — and now plies his trade in Japan.
Spanberger was ultimately flipped for the Chase Anderson dart throw, which also never amounted to much.
It’s hard to describe this deadline as anything but a dud. Considering the number of players that moved, it’s surprising that it’s left no lasting impact.
A month later the Blue Jays were able to move Josh Donaldson for Julian Merryweather, but the odds aren’t looking great on that deal as it has yet to bear fruit for an extended period of time, either.
Additions: RP Curtis Taylor, RP Edisson Gonzalez, SP/RP Anthony Kay, SP Simeon Woods Richardson, SP/RP Thomas Hatch, RP Kyle Johnston, OF Derek Fisher
Subtractions: 2B Eric Sogard, SP Marcus Stroman, RP David Phelps, RP Daniel Hudson, SP Aaron Sanchez, RP Joe Biagini, OF Cal Stevenson
2022 ramifications: This was the infamous 42 years of control deadline. The Blue Jays haven’t gotten much MLB production from this group, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t affect the franchise’s team building.
Putting Woods Richardson aside for a moment, the inability of a group of young Blue Jays pitchers like Kay, Hatch, Waguespack, Pannone — and off-season trade acquisition Trent Thornton — to graduate a viable back-of-the-rotation starter has forced the team to acquire veterans to fill those spots.
Starters like Tanner Roark, Chase Anderson, the pair of pitchers the team acquired at the 2020 deadline, and even Yusei Kikuchi largely came aboard because the Blue Jays haven’t developed MLB starters other than Alek Manoah in recent seasons.
Kay, Hatch and Johnston are all currently working at triple-A and could course correct, but the final year of selling hasn’t yielded consistent MLB contributors.
Additions: SP/RP Ross Stripling, SP Taijuan Walker, SP Robbie Ray, INF Jonathan Villar
Subtractions: RP Travis Bergen, SP Kendall Williams, 1B/OF Ryan Noda, OF Griffin Conine
2022 ramifications: The effect of this deadline is being felt in a profound way by the 2022 Blue Jays.
That starts with Stripling, who’s been outstanding as the team’s fourth starter with a 3.10 ERA and the 3.11 FIP to match. Hyun-Jin Ryu’s injury and Kikuchi’s inconsistency could have easily derailed the 2022 Blue Jays’ rotation. Stripling’s play prevented that from happening, as the right-hander has become far more impactful this year than he was in 2020 or 2021.
The Ray acquisition also remains relevant despite his absence from the current team. His success as a high-velocity lefty with dubious command likely played a role in the Blue Jays acquiring Kikuchi, a southpaw with a similar repertoire. Signing the Japanese lefty to a three-year contract was a risky move, and it’s hard to see it happening without the team helping Ray iron out his issues first.
More directly, his free agent departure after the 2021 season resulted in the Blue Jays earning the 78th pick in the 2022 draft. The player chosen with that pick — college second baseman Cade Doughty — won’t help the team this year, but if he becomes a prospect of note the Blue Jays taking on Ray as a reclamation project will have weight beyond his outstanding production in Toronto.
Additions: SP Jose Berrios, RP Brad Hand, RP Joakim Soria
Subtractions: SS/OF Austin Martin, SP Simeon Woods Richardson, C Riley Adams, SP Yaifer Perdomo, C J.J. D’Orazio
2022 ramifications: Like Liriano, Woods Richardson makes two appearances on this list as the Blue Jays transitioned from seller to buyer.
It’s too early to know how this deal will net out, but Berrios is an enormous part of the team’s present and future success, especially after signing a $131 million extension. Neither Martin nor Woods Richardson has graduated from double-A, meaning that they probably wouldn’t have made an impact on the 2022 Blue Jays if they had stayed.
That means the Berrios move — for now — is precisely as good as he is productive. That makes it a mixed bag thus far, as the right-hander has had promising outings but has ultimately posted a 5.20 ERA and 0.4 WAR on the season.