While one AL East seller has begun to unload some of its most marketable inventory, the Blue Jays have yet to come to an agreement on any trades. However, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (via Twitter) that the Jays are ramping up their efforts to trade impending free agents J.A. Happ, Tyler Clippard and John Axford, so as not to be left with too many pieces to move at the eleventh hour as the non-waiver deadline approaches.
Similarly, SNY’s Andy Martino tweets that the Jays have dropped their asking price on Happ recently. While the Toronto front office was at one point asking other clubs for players considered to be among those organizations’ top three or so prospects, they’re being a bit more “realistic” with the deadline approaching, Martino hears. Exactly what the lower asking price entails remains unclear, and it certainly doesn’t seem they’re intent on rushing a trade just yet. For instance, Fancred’s Jon Heyman tweets that the Yankees still believe the asking price on Happ to be too high.
Beyond the trio of Happ, Clippard and Axford, however, the Jays appear to have other pieces they’d either like to move or, at least, are willing to move. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand writes that Toronto is also shopping both right-hander Marco Estrada and, a bit more surprisingly, infielder Yangervis Solarte. One exec from another club tells Feinsand that the Jays’ prices on their movable assets remains “extremely high,” however.
While much has been made of Happ’s availability, the other players listed in tonight’s reports haven’t been covered at such great length. Both Clippard and Axford are playing on supremely affordable $1.5MM base salaries after earning roster spots as minor league invitees to Spring Training. Both veteran relievers have improved their control (dramatically so, in Axford’s case) while largely maintaining their strikeout rates. Clippard’s bottom-line ERA (3.61) tops that of Axford (4.24), but fielding-independent metrics favor Axford fairly substantially. Either reliever, though, could help to bolster a contending club’s middle-relief contingent.
As for Estrada, he hasn’t pitched since July 3, owing to a left glute strain. He’d been out on a rehab assignment, but Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith tweets that he was forced to exit today’s start due to a blister on his middle finger. That significantly clouds the chances of Estrada returning before the July 31 deadline, but considering the fact that he’ll still be owed $4.26MM of this year’s $13MM salary come Aug. 1, he could certainly clear waivers and be marketed in August. Estrada hasn’t been at his best this season anyhow, though, struggling to a 4.72 ERA with 7.0 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9 with 1.51 HR/9 through 89 2/3 innings of work.
The inclusion of Solarte on Feinsand’s list is a bit more surprising, given that the Jays can control him through the 2020 season at affordable rates, should they choose. The 31-year-old Solarte hasn’t performed that well in 2018, hitting just .240/.294/.424 in 418 plate appearances. But, Solarte’s walk and strikeout rates remain solid, and he’s making hard contact at the same clip he did in 2017. Despite maintaining a knack for squaring up the ball, Solarte’s .244 BABIP sits well south of his career mark of .272. Given his ability to handle second base or third base (plus some shortstop in a pinch), plus a pair of club options for the 2019 ($5.5MM) and 2020 ($8MM) seasons, Solarte should draw fairly widespread interest.
One player who the Jays don’t appear keen on dealing, however, is righty Marcus Stroman. Heyman tweets that several teams have checked in on Stroman, but there’s a “strong belief” throughout the industry that Toronto will hang onto him. Stroman has another two seasons of club control remaining beyond the 2018 season, and the Blue Jays would be selling low on him in some regards.
While clubs are increasingly willing to look past ugly ERA marks in favor of other more telling metrics, it still seems likely that Stroman’s 5.42 ERA and certainly his increased walk rate would weigh down his trade value. Stroman, though, has maintained similar strikeout, swinging-strike, home-run and ground-ball rates in 2018; his unsightly ERA is tied somewhat to his worsened control but also to a fluky low 61.6 percent strand rate. Certainly, other clubs see plenty to like when looking at Stroman in spite of sub-par traditional stats.
None of that even touches on perhaps the team’s most enigmatic trade piece — third baseman Josh Donaldson. At this point, it’s not clear that Donaldson will return before the non-waiver deadline. The remainder of his $23MM salary will assuredly clear waivers next month, meaning he’ll have a bit of time to prove he can return to form and showcase himself for contending clubs before the Aug. 31 deadline for postseason eligibility. With Donaldson and Estrada both likely to clear waivers, the Jays could well remain active on the trade front even if they move their top rental commodities in the next week.
I disagree. Solarte has performed pretty darn well in 2018. Yes, his average is down, but he is playing a lot more than he did in recent years. His average was respectable for much of the season, but has dropped as the season as gone on. Remember, he was supposed to be a utility player for the Jays, but has been forced into every day duty because of injuries. Solarte’s power numbers are good. He leads the Jays in homers with 17 & is second in RBI’s with 52. If he gets to a place where he isn’t playing every single day, he would be quite productive
Untrue if he isn’t starting then he is playing less
He was a starter on the padres at third and 2nd. The gaps were due to injuries
He is starting everyday. He is playing everyday. He played 128 games last season & 109 the season before that. He has already played in 97 games, most on the Blue Jays. He is on pace to play a lot more than his totals from both of his previous seasons. Solarte went through a slump leading up to the all-star break. He looked tired. He needs more days off, but the Jays have been unable to give him that because of Donaldson being out
I disagree whole heartedly with your assessment. He’s a below average offensive and defensive player. Check out his WAR: fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=5352&posit…
He’s literally replacement level but making a few million. He’s worth nothing
I don’t care about WAR. It means nothing to me. I watch him every day. He has given the Jays a lot more than was expected of him. in multiple positions. He was supposed to be an utility infielder for Toronto. He’s given them power & decent defense. He has been one of the few Jays players to give them anything at all offensively
Solarte is a likeable player. Here’s the #1 issue; Solarte would not necessarily be an upgrade for any contending team at 3B, and he’s not good enough defensively at 2B for Milwaukee to take a run at. Solarte knew going into this season he’d have to play around the infield. His range is not good. 3B is his best spot.
Agreed. He’s also a leader in the clubhouse and a great fit for this team.
In the case of your opinion of WAR…Ignorance isn’t validity.
Right on. There are certainly valid criticisms of the metric but that..that wasn’t one of them,
I agree sometimes you have to look past the stats, but saying his mediocre homerun and RBI total leads a very mediocre team isn’t giving him much credit.
He’s been garbage lately.
If he has any value at all the Jays would be smart to move him now. Likely why they are ‘shopping him’.
“Beyond the trio of Happ, Clippard and Axford, however, the Yankees appear to have other pieces they’d either like to move or, at least, are willing to move.”
That’s supposed to say Blue Jays not Yankees 😉
Solarte to A’s. Oakland can move Semian around. Marcus was a SS experiment that quite hasn’t worked out as expected for the Athletics…
Honestly I think Estrada to the A’s makes a bit of sense. They need arms for the rotation, he has pitched quite well in the playoffs, and is a fly-ball pitcher that would do well in the spacious Colosseum. Bet the Jays would pay the money too for a better return.
I don’t think replacing Semien with Solarte is a smart move. I think Eduardo Escobar is a better fit. But if Oakland is really looking to replace Semien for the next two months, then Freddy Galvis is the obvious option. Escobar would just give Oakland a hell of a lot more flexibility
Andrew is correct. Solarte is not the answer at SS. If Oakland wants a SS they can discuss Diaz. It’s time to play Urena and Gurriel at SS for the rest of the year.
I’ll be good if the Urena experiment ended immediately.
Mighty – we know Urena’s been garbage in AAA. However, Jays are not going to win the next year or two. Might as well play him until it’s time to push him out. Or, he plays well enough to be a backup INF.
You forget they have Tulo for the next decade!!
He’s not going anywhere.
I’d rather they resign Diaz for a year or two as back up, and make Urena a lifer in Buffalo.
Also, you might see more of Russell Martin in the infield too next year.
Solarte to the Brewers and bring Arcia back up to replace Miller and Saladino
Stroman will be a Red in 2019.. A package headed by Jonathan India, Jorge Cantu, and Tyler Stephenson, and 1 Low A flier..
Unless that offer is a good bit higher I think the Blue Jays are gonna disagree with you.
As a Jays fan I’d consider a package headlined by India for Stroman. This isn’t the worst proposal, though India plays a position of organizational strength in the system, he’s the type of headliner you would need to move Stroman and you can re-arrange the pieces as you need to.
Stroman has depressed his trade value a bit this year, and is getting closer to free agency.
Jorge Cantu no longer plays in the league. Perhaps replacing Cantu with Chris Sabo or Todd Benzinger will do the trick.
If the Jays can get a decent return, they need to get rid of Solarte now!
Like others have said, he is a back up, and while his numbers have been decent as a starter this year, with the addition of Gurriel and eventually Guerrero, (possibly Bichette and Biggio) he won’t be needed in a years time.
Solarte to the BoSox makes sense to me.
THe Red Sox have nothing to give back for Solarte
What does Solarte command in a trade? Boston probably has enough to cover that one.
The one team Solarte could be a fit, potentially, is Pittsburgh. He could spell both Harrison and Moran, start against lefties. Throw in Maile depending on Cervelli’s concussion symptoms. And, if Pitt is all in to make the postseason, deal Happ back to the Pirates once again.
Justin Smoak is another asset for the Jays, but no team needs a 1B. Greg Bird’s been heating up and I don’t see Pitt looking to replace Josh Bell.
The Jays should trade any or all of the listed names if they can get a good return.
The rental trade prices will fall as the deadline approaches and they might get stuck with bodies unless they get their act together.Perhaps the Jays can bundle rentals together to get a higher return.
I hope that they have learned by their mistakes, not trading Donaldson or Estrada at their past peaks. Surely the Jays executive cannot fool the fans yet another year with the false “we can compete BS”. Now is the time to trade anything that moves for as near ready parts they can get.
As called 2 years ago, the Jays are very late for a total tear down and rebuild.
Whether the Jays can actually compete in 2 or 3 years from now is going to depend on how well they can do at this deadline. Atkins job is on the line. #Scoutseyes
there is one rental I can argue they should keep and that is JD. I agree trading him last year or this past winter was the right time but at this point, I’d say it’s best to keep him and give him a QO after the season. worst case scenario he declines and you get a compensatory pick, best case scenario he takes it and potentially builds up some value again cause at this point they will get nothing for him.
get rid of Morales and rotate him and vlad at 3b and DH and then move Donaldson.
^Agreed. QO Donaldson and maybe offer 2-year plus option. If he rakes, he’s dealt next year. Gives Vlad a chance to learn from another former MVP.
At this point I have to agree to keep Donaldson, qualify him unless he comes back healthy in August and tears it up and they can get a haul.
Haha I can’t believe they thought they could get a top three prospect for half a year of Happ.
I hope that all the aforementioned players get dealt so the rebuild can begin right away. I agree with them wanting to keep Stroman and others like Sanchez and Barnes, as all have been injured and they’d be selling low. Realistically, I’m sure that they can deal Happ for a little more than what the Orioles got for Britton. If they expand the deal and add a controllable player like Tepera or Solarte, they’ll get a stronger return. Happ and Solarte to the Brewers for four prospects should do it.