Minnesota Twins Offseason Trade Partner Profile: Toronto Blue Jays
The 2017-2018 offseason is here for the Minnesota Twins. Who could be their trade partners this offseason?
Now that the Minnesota Twins have entered the offseason, they are looking to improve the roster through trades and through free agent signings. In this series, we’ll look at how the Twins match up with teams in trade scenarios.
We will first cover the team’s 2017 and what they may be looking for this offseason and then look at whether the Twins could be a good fit for a possible trade this offseason. If there’s a fit, we’ll try to put together a feasible trade that would work for both sides. We will go alphabetically through the league, and today we will look at a team that seems to be in a middle spot between competing and a re-tool, the Toronto Blue Jays.
Blue Jays 2017
After winning the American League East in 2015 and finishing as runner up in 2016, the Jays fell back to 4th in the division in 2017, dropping 16 wins to a 76-86 record. Interestingly, though they did struggle, they out-performed their Pythagorean record by 4 wins, which is a significant amount.
Ace Marcus Stroman certainly did his part. Stroman established himself as one of the best pitchers in the American League with 33 starts, 201 innings, a 3.09 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, and a 62/164 BB/K ratio. When he was healthy, J.A. Happ was Stroman’s left-handed echo, making 25 starts, throwing 145 1/3 innings, allowing a 3.53 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, and a 46/142 BB/K ratio.
Unfortunately, there really was not much else positive from the Blue Jays rotation. Aaron Sanchez made just 8 starts due to injury, and Marco Estrada and Francisco Liriano were bad when they did pitch, and the replacements when Sanchez was injured were poor as well.
The Blue Jays bullpen was very impressive. Roberto Osuna took some time off during the season to deal with mental health struggles, and the team supported him, allowing him to maintain his focus on the field to the tun of a 3.38 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, and a 9/83 BB/K ratio. The other four primary members of the bullpen all pitched with better than a 4 ERA and only one had worse than a 1.15 WHIP.
The last few years, the Blue Jays have been carried by their lineup. That was not the case in 2017. Truly the two bright spots in the lineup were Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak. Donaldson continued his brilliance at the hot corner, though he did miss roughly 50 games due to injury, hitting .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs in 113 games. Smoak hit 38 home runs with a .270/.355/.529 line.
The Blue Jays still got power out of Jose Bautista and Kendrys Morales, with 51 between them, but they combined for a .308 OBP and 302 strikeouts, which hurt the team as much as the home runs helped it.
Injuries also hurt the offense as Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis totaled 116 games between them. Russell Martin played just 91 games as well. None of those three produced at the level that they were used to when healthy, but they were missed in the lineup.
The Blue Jays were pleased to see the play of Ezequel Carrera and Teoscar Hernandez. Carrera played 131 games as the 4th outfielder with a .282/.356/.408 line with 8 home runs and 10 stolen bases. Hernandez played just 26 games with the Blue Jays, but he showed big power, hitting .261/.305/.602 with 8 home runs.
This offseason so far, the Jays have been quiet, making only one real move, trading a player to be named for infielder Aledmys Diaz.
Possible Trade Interest
Blue Jays may want: Pitching depth, possible prospects in trade (likely near-MLB arms, if not all pieces)
Twins may want: A power bat for the DH position, starting pitching, relief pitching
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With those needs how could the Twins and Blue Jays match up? Here are three ideas:
Trade proposal #1: Felix Jorge, Jake Reed, and Jose Miranda for J.A. Happ. Happ is 35 and a free agent after 2018, so getting the exact value is tough to gauge, but Happ has posted a 3.43 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP, with an average of 171 innings and a 50/152 BB/K ratio over the last three seasons.
Happ would likely be unavailable in trade until the Blue Jays truly decide to rebuild, but that’s what most of these proposals are based off of. Happ would also likely draw the most interest, so his trade package would likely require the third piece, but how valuable each piece would have to be is a question, unless the Twins were able to strike early and get a deal at this price or less.
Trade proposal #2: Jermaine Palacios and Mason Melotakis for Marco Estrada. Estrada did have a rough ERA in 2017, but in his three seasons with the Blue Jays, Estrada has posted a 3.88 ERA and 1.18 WHIP over an average of 181 innings with a 64/157 average BB/K ratio. That would fit very well in the rotation for one season at $13 million before he is a free agent after 2018.
The depth of the middle infield in the system would allow for the move of Palacios in a deal like this, and the Twins could play his value for a 1-for-1, but a near-MLB reliever may be needed to push this over the edge to solidify the Twins rotation.
Next: How offseason deals affect the Twins' plans
Trade proposal #3: Kohl Stewart and Chris Paul for Steve Pearce. Pearce is the type of right-handed bat that would be perfect on the bench. He can handle outfield and first base, and he can even play an occasional game at second base. Pearce did not play a single game at second in 2017, but in the previous two seasons, he played at least a baker’s dozen games in each season at the position.
Pearce is a guy with very solid power, especially against left-handed pitching, and he has just one more season on his contract for $6.25 million. Offering the ability to power out something in the range of his last four seasons (.263/.339/.479 with 16 HR over 93 games on average) would be a very quality contribution.
The price may be high for such a bat, but Pearce would likely draw some significant interest if he were put on the market.