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SportsWhy the 2019 trade market for pitching could run through the Blue Jays

18:55  07 june  2019
18:55  07 june  2019 Source:   sportsnet.ca

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Why the 2019 trade market for pitching could run through the Blue Jays© Frank Gunn/CP Marcus-Stroman

TORONTO – If the Blue Jays were at .500, or even a little below, the team’s play over the next six weeks or so would help determine how the front office approaches the trade deadline. Win and you buy, lose and you sell.

Given the Blue Jays’ current 23-39 record, there’s no mystery here. The Blue Jays will sell, exchanging present-day talent for players with a chance to contribute on future contenders.

So the question for the Blue Jays isn’t whether to sell, but rather how much and how soon. The stakes are high. With the right moves, the Blue Jays can bolster the game’s third-ranked farm system. Choose the wrong players, however, and this goes down as a missed opportunity. Either way, it stands to reason that the 2019 pitching market will run through Toronto.

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Now that the amateur draft is over, teams will typically start turning their attention to the draft. That process takes weeks, but there’s likely to be an increased sense of urgency this summer now that August trades have been eliminated. The single July 31 deadline means teams have less than two months to add all the reinforcements they’re going to get between now and October.

Chances are, talks will pick up sooner than usual.

"That’s more likely than not because of it being one deadline," Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins said this week. "But at the same time, there aren’t things that are already occurring. There aren’t deals that are happening. It doesn’t seem to be that the market is brewing up in a quick way. But I would expect it to move sooner this year than it has the last couple."

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Who’s in the market for pitching ? One point of reference for the Blue Jays could be the James Paxton trade that saw the Mariners acquire Justus Sheffield, Erik Swanson and Realistically, the Blue Jays still have three chances to trade Stroman and Sanchez after this winter: the 2019 trade

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Presumably the Blue Jays were pleased to see Dallas Keuchel agree to a one-year, $13 million deal with the Braves. That development means teams can no longer add a starter of his calibre without surrendering any prospects or draft picks. Instead, they’ll be forced to turn to the trade market, where the likes of Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez are sure to be available, as they were all winter.

Stroman’s already one of the more intriguing potentially available starters along with Madison Bumgarner, Trevor Bauer and Mike Minor. Combine Stroman’s reasonable $7.4 million salary and remaining year of control with his 2.84 ERA and 58.1 per cent ground ball rate and you have an appealing trade target, especially considering his big game successes.

While Sanchez’s ongoing finger issues would complicate any trade talks, he has made all his starts on his way to a respectable 3.95 ERA. When he’s on, that’s an arm capable of helping contenders in some capacity.

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The presence of Craig Kimbrel in free agency would have complicated things, too, but his reported three-year $43 million deal with the Cubs means teams in search of elite relievers will have to turn to the trade market.

That’s good news for the Blue Jays, who have a bullpen difference-maker in Ken Giles. Thanks to his devastating fastball-slider combination, Giles has a 1.08 ERA through 25 innings with 42 strikeouts compared to just seven walks. That’s the kind of reliever teams have historically paid lots for in summer trades.

Granted, Giles struggled throughout the 2017 playoffs, but a far greater sample of regular season innings points to elite results. Even with the Astros clearly out of the mix based on their history, there should still be widespread interest.

Like Stroman and Sanchez, Giles is under team control through 2020 through the arbitration process. In theory, that gives the Blue Jays three chances to trade them: now, over the winter, or next summer. But their value may be highest now, since they could impact two playoff runs.

Of course we’re still a long way from July 31. An injury to any one of those arms would limit the Blue Jays in trade talks and cost them a chance to add to their emerging core. A dropoff in underlying performance such as velocity or command would be similarly damaging.

With that said, the Blue Jays certainly aren’t limited to three trade chips.

"There’s a ton of players that are here that a lot of teams would like to have, and it’s not just guys that have one or two years of control," Atkins said. "Those discussions never stop. They do heat up. Now that the draft is (over) I think we’ll start to have more discussions about what those opportunities are."

Based on what we’ve seen so far, the Blue Jays will be in a legitimately interesting position next month. It’s possible they’ll have one of the best starters available along with the best reliever. If you’re rebuilding team, that’s a significant opportunity.

Blue Jays waiting to see how the buyers’ market develops.
Trade rumours may have infiltrated the Blue Jays clubhouse, but general manager Ross Atkins added no fuel to that fire Thursday. Whispers about potential trade chips for Toronto have swirled on and off since all season, with veterans Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Ken Giles and Justin Smoak among the names most often caught up in the hearsay. The gossip sparked comments earlier this week from Stroman when the right-hander said the chatter within the team and on social media had become unavoidable.

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