The Blue Jays are yet another team heading towards a rebuilding process. Still, the future is bright with the game’s top prospect in Vladimir Guerrero Jr., so Toronto would be wise to trade away major leagues pieces to acquire more young talent to pair with the #1 prospect.
Current State: Rebuilding
Blue Jays Hire Charlie Montoyo as Manager
The Blue Jays have hired Charlie Montoyo to be their next manager. Montoyo, 53, was the bench coach for the Rays under Kevin Cash last season. Before that, he was their third base coach from 2015-2017. Montoyo also spent 19 seasons in Tampa’s minor league system, and coached the Triple-A Durham Bulls from 2007-2014. He’s also highly regarded as an intelligent baseball mind who would make a really good manager. Well, here’s his chance, and he now has the pressure to help develop the game’s top prospect in Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Luckily for Montoyo, his success in the minor leagues should help him when managing Guerrero Jr. and Toronto’s other up and coming young prospects. He also comes from an organization in the Rays who have mastered the art of player development by putting their players in a position to succeed. Montoyo is a risky hire with little experience at the major league level, but similar to Mike Shildt with the Cardinals last season, his experience at the minor league level may prove to be more than enough.
Blue Jays Acquire RHP Trent Thornton in Exchange for SS Aledmys Diaz
The Blue Jays have traded shortstop Aledmys Diaz to the Astros in exchange for pitching prospect Trent Thornton. Thornton, 25, may start the year in the majors next season. He had a unencoruaging 4.42 ERA in Triple-A, but still has some upside. That upside is with his mid 90s fastball, two effective breaking balls to along with solid command. He could become a #4 starter, but his likely struggles to get lefties out without an effective changeup will mean that he’s best suited as a multi-inning reliever. However, those types of relievers are extremely valuable, though Thornton will need to speed up his development before it’s too late for him to make an impact due to his age. Diaz was blocking promising young player Lourdes Gurriel Jr. from starting at shortstop, so he wasn’t needed. Therefore, landing someone who has the upside to be a very valuable asset for them is a smart move for Toronto.
Blue Jays Sign SP Matt Shoemaker
In need of pitching depth, the Blue Jays have signed starting pitcher Matt Shoemaker to a one year, $3.5 million contract. Shoemaker, 32, only started seven games for the Angels last season. In those seven starts, he had a 4.94 ERA with a 1.26 WHIP and a 3.35 FIP. After a terrific 2014 rookie season in which he had a 3.00 ERA, he’s averaged just a 4.45 ERA over the past four seasons. Though he allowed a career high hard contact rate at an alarming 50%, he did strike batters out a career rate (9.6 K/9). There shouldn’t be high expectations for Shoemaker this season, but if healthy he should be a solid back end of the rotation starter. Is that worth $3.5 million? For a rebuilding club in need of any sort of pitching, it likely is.
Blue Jays Acquire SS Ronny Brito and RHP Andrew Sopko In Exchange For C Russell Martin
In a trade that will bring catcher Russell Martin back to Los Angeles, the Blue Jays have acquired shortstop prospect Ronny Brito and minor league pitcher Andrew Sopko. Brito, 19, ranks as Toronto’s 26th ranked prospect, according to MLB.Com. He had a .855 OPS in Rookie-Ball, but he was given a well below average hit and power tool by these same evaluators, so he needs to continue to thrive defensively. This limits his upside to a role player as best, as he’ll likely never hit enough to be an impact major leaguer. Sopko, 24, has a excellent season between High-A and Double-A, but considering his age and the fact he isn’t on any prospect lists, he’ll have a steep road ahead if he wants to crack a major league roster. Toronto isn’t getting a lot back with prospects, but this trade frees up $3.6 million of Martin’s $20 million salary, and clears the way for young catcher Danny Jansen to start behind the plate. It’s possible the Blue Jays were just going to simply release Martin, so this is a respectable trade for them.
Blue Jays Sign SS Freddy Galvis
The Blue Jays have signed shortstop Freddy Galvis to a one year deal worth $5 million with a team option for 2020. Galvis, 29, posted a pretty typical season for his standards last season, with a .680 OPS and a 2.3 WAR. His hard contact rate did jump all the way up to 40.3%, and his OPS jumped from .613 in the first half to .776 in the second half, but it’s still clear he’s a below average hitter to an average hitter at best. His defense, though inconsistent, was sold at 7 drs in 2018, but he also posted a negative Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) last season, so he’s around average in that part as well. Overall, Galvis is an average player with experience at multiple positions who brings somewhat of a veteran presence to a young, rebuilding team. He gives them some insurance in case the transition from minors to the majors doesn’t work out for some of their young prospects up the middle, including Bo Bichette. It’s a slight overpay, and it’s unclear where he’ll slot in with Brandon Drury, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and Devon Travis slotted in at third, shot, and second, respectively. It’s not awful move, but it’s definitely not a move that will play any dividends.
Blue Jays Sign SP Clay Bucholtz
Adding another veteran arm to their rotation, the Blue Jays have signed starting pitcher Clay Bucholtz to a one year contract worth $3 million. Bucholtz, 34, had a surprisingly good season with the Diamondbacks last season, posting a 2.01 ERA and a 3.47 FIP. That would seem to signal that Bucholtz is worthy of being trusted in the rotation, but should he? It’s unclear if the right-hander actually improved last season. He allowed more hard contact (38.1%) and struck out batters at a lesser rate (7.41 K/9). Yet, a .255 BABIP and a an absurd 86.6% left on base percentage allowed for Bucholtz to look better than he actually is, and pitching only 98.1 innings allowed to prevent that luck from catching up to him. Bucholtz is more of the pitcher he was in 2016 (5.06 FIP) than he showed in a small sample last season, and in the AL East, I expect him to get ambushed. I would have preferred if Toronto would have kept a rotation spot open for a young pitcher such as Ryan Borucki and Sean Reid-Foley, who are now possibly blocked by this signing. Instead, they are wasting $3 million on a pitcher who won’t eat up a lot of innings and should have an ERA close to 5.00.
*Will Be Updated With Every Move The Blue Jays Make
Stats Courtesy of Baseball Reference, Fangraphs, and Baseball Savant