a��Over the next 30 days, I’ll look at 30 playersa��one from each teama��that I believe should be traded, but more along the lines of aA�a�?what ifa�? scenario. Some will seem obvious, just as others will seem nonsensical. Some may also seem desperate, but it’s important to understand that this list is entirely subjective and made up solely of notable names. A player can be deemed movable for any of the following reasons: production (or lack thereof), current and future team outlook, age, potential return value, salary, or even injury history.
So, how did I settle on Edwin EncarnaciA?n?
The 2015 Toronto Blue Jays were fun. Their offense was staggering: 891 runs scored (second-highest: 764), a run differential of +221 (second-highest: +122), and they sold the farm to try and win it all.
In the end they settled for an AL East title and were eliminated in six by the Kansas City Royals. Not bad, just not the preferred outcome. From an offensive standpoint, 2016 promises to be more of the same. The issue going forward, however, is Toronto’s pitching rotation.
Currently: Marcus Stroman, Marco Estrada, 41-year-old R.A. Dickey, and Drew Hutchinson. Mark Buehrle, 36, is a free agent (and it’s okay for Toronto if he remains that way). David Price, 30, is arguably the most prized pitcher on the open market this offseason, and it’s all but official he won’t be back.
Toronto’s team ERA put them just inside the top half (3.80), and their opponents batting average against (.248), puts them just outside the top 10. That’s okay; it’s solid, but it’s not championship caliber.
Here’s how each primary starter fared in terms of ERA and FIP in 2015 respectively, arranged by who made the most starts:
Dickey a�� 3.91, 4.48
Buehrle a�� 3.81, 4.26
Estrada a�� 3.13, 4.40
Hutchinson a�� 5.57, 4.42
Price a�� 2.30, 2.22
Taking the averages of Dickey, Estrada, and Hutchinson, the numbers come to: 4.20, 4.43. Of those three, Hutchinson had the highest strikeout rate (7.7 per nine).
Stroman, 24, is very promising. Over 157.2 career innings, his numbers are 3.31 and 2.96, with a K/9 of 7.4. If he remains healthy, he’ll become Toronto’s ace down the line, but they need to acquire another arm. Fortunately, they’ve got enough offensive pieces to deem one of them expendable.
First off: likely MVP Josh Donaldson, mid-season acquisitions Ben Revere and Troy Tulowitzki, Russell Martin, and JosA� Bautista will all be back. With those names in mind, it’s time to dismiss a few things.
One: they’re not trading Donaldson, who at 29 is coming off his best season as a professional, and is under team control through 2018.
Two: they traded a lot to get Revere and Tuloa��more for the lattera��and again, team control. Revere, 27, isn’t eligible to become a free agent until after 2017. The star shortstop, still just 31, is under contract through 2020.
Three: Martin, despite showing glaring signs of regression in his first year with the Blue Jays, signed a five-year deal worth $82 million before the 2015 season. There’s no way he moves yet, and if he were to do so, Toronto would be eating plenty of that contract.
Finally: Bautista. He’s 35, and from the looks of it, quite healthy. He’s played in 153 games or more in consecutive seasons, and his power numbers remain consistent. But again… he’s 35. Eventually, Father Time leaves his mark. See: Pujols, Albert. Or any other athlete.
Signed through 2016 and set cost Toronto $14 million, it would seem that if the Blue Jays had to choose one player to move between Bautista and EncarnaciA?n (who’s also only contracted through 2016), the choice would be simple.
Let’s operate under the assumption that they won’t keep both. EncarnaciA?n turns 33 in January and has endured an incredible four-year stretch with the Blue Jays, averaging a slash line of .274/.371/.549 and hitting no fewer than 34 home runs in a season over that span.
The gap in salary of $4 million between Bautista and EncarnaciA?n makes the latter a bit more attractive to potential suitors as well. And again, given his age, I believe he currently possesses more value than the bat flip king.
That is why the Blue Jays need to move him for a starting pitchera��one that’s young and under team control, but can deliver immediately. The New York Mets, who could use a bat this offseason, have plenty of arms to look at. A potential package centered around Zack Wheeler, perhaps? I couldn’t tell you.
Here’s what I can tell you: their offense is capable of great things again in 2016, but they won’t go anywhere with their current rotation. They need at least one more, and shopping the moderately priced power bat in EncarnaciA?n would present them with multiple possibilities.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference