Having already acquired Taijuan Walker, the Blue Jays continue to look for additional upgrades as they pursue a playoff berth. Toronto’s targets include Rangers southpaw Mike Minor, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link), as well as Angels outfielder Brian Goodwin, Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi reports.
Minor is perhaps the closest of the two names to becoming a reality, as Grant describes the Jays and Rangers as “actively engaged” in negotiations. Minor would be a pure rental pickup for Toronto since he is a free agent after the season, and he is owed roughly $1.61MM remaining of his prorated $9.5MM salary for the 2020 season. While Minor has a 10-team no-trade clause in the first two seasons of his three-year, $28MM deal with Texas, Grant reports that the clause is no longer in place for this, the final year of Minor’s contract.
Though Minor tossed six shutout innings against the Dodgers in his most recent start, it hasn’t been a great year overall for the 32-year-old. Minor has a 5.60 ERA, 2.69 K/BB rate, and 8.9 K/9 over 35 1/3 innings for the Rangers, with some advanced metrics (4.84 FIP, 4.58 xFIP, 4.49 SIERA, .340 xwOBA against a .314 wOBA) painting only a slightly more positive view of his performance. Still, Minor is only a season removed from a superb year that saw him finish eighth in AL Cy Young Award voting.
Minor has also continued to eat innings, which is no small matter of import for a Blue Jays team that has struggled to get starters deep into games. Walker, Hyun Jin Ryu, Tanner Roark, and Chase Anderson comprise Toronto’s current rotation, with Matt Shoemaker and Nate Pearson both on the injured list. The Jays could continue to rely on bullpen games or an opener/bulk pitcher combo for that fifth rotation spot until Shoemaker and Pearson return, or they could opt for a more proven starter like Minor to solidify matters.
In terms of what the Jays might give up, Davidi writes that Texas has shown interest in Toronto’s “young catchers” — presumably in reference to Danny Jansen or Reese McGuire, as Davidi notes that dealing either backstop would then require the Blue Jays to add another catcher to fill the void. The Jays do have an experienced backup option in Caleb Joseph at their alternate training site, and also prospects Riley Adams and Alejandro Kirk within their 60-man player pool, though it may be unlikely that a more prized prospect like Kirk is moved for a rental player.
Goodwin has backed up his impressive 2019 season with another strong showing this year, as the outfielder entered today’s action with a .253/.343/.484 slash line and four home runs over 105 plate appearances. The 29-year-old Goodwin is controllable through the 2022 season via arbitration, and his ability to play all three outfield positions makes him an even more valuable asset.
Neither Randal Grichuk or Teoscar Hernandez is exactly an ideal defensive fit in center or right field, respectively, so Goodwin could at the very least provide some late-game value as a defensive sub. Goodwin does perhaps seem somewhat overqualified for such a role, though a more regular job could emerge if (as one industry source suggests to Davidi) Lourdes Gurriel Jr. could be used as a deadline trade chip. Gurriel was reportedly floated in trade negotiations over the offseason, and his inclusion in trade talks now could open up a lot of possibilities for the Blue Jays at the deadline.
Gurriel has had some injury problems and faced questions about his defensive position and consistency at the plate over his three MLB seasons, though he has settled in as a regular left fielder and has shown more than a few flashes of brilliance as a hitter. Gurriel has hit .274/.317/.487 with 35 homers over his first 722 Major League plate appearances, and doesn’t turn 27 years old until October. Signed to a seven-year, $22MM deal out of Cuba in 2016, Gurriel is still locked up through the 2023 season at the very affordable price of $13.4MM from 2021-23.