The Blue Jays front office finally showed that they are ready to focus on a rebuild with the trades of Seunghwan Oh, J.A. Happ, Roberto Osuna, Aaron Loup, and John Axford. The team added 4 minor league pitchers, 4 minor league position players, one major league reliever, and one major league position player. The Osuna trade also illuminated the fact that no matter how talented a player is, there is no room for abusive behaviour in this franchise. The Osuna situation has been talked about enough already that I won’t be going any further into it. Leave that for the Houston Astros writers.
Trade #1: July 26th
Sent RHP Seunghwan Oh to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for minor league players 1B Chad Spanberger and OF Forrest Wall along with a player to be named later (PTBNL) or cash considerations. Prior to the trade, Oh had posted a 2.68 ERA, two saves and 55 strikeouts in 47 innings. He is striking out better than 10 batters per 9 innings and has limited his walks to 2 per 9 innings. Oh is working on a 1-year, $2 million contract with a $2.5 million team option that vests should Oh pitch in 70 games. He has currently worked 50 games this season, but it would appear that his option would be a bargain even if he doesn’t reach the vesting mark.
Spanberger has put up a .318 batting average and .946 OPS this season in full season A ball. He was assigned to the Lansing Lugnuts where he has recorded 7 hits in 19 at bats so far. A 6th round pick of the Rockies in 2016, Spanberger has shown power in his first two seasons of professional ball with 42 home runs over that time. The 22 year old will progress through the minor leagues quickly if his offensive output continues, and could be in line to replace Justin Smoak when his tenure comes to and end in Toronto after the 2019 season.
Wall began the season with High A Lancaster in the California League where he posted a .305 average in 47 games, earning a promotion to AA Hartford in the Eastern League. In 46 games there, his average was a measly .206. When the Jays acquired Wall, he simply walked across the field to the other clubhouse to join the New Hampshire Fisher Cats as the two teams were playing each other. Wall has collected 7 hits in his first 21 at bats with the Cats, including a home run in his first game. He will join Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio near the top of the FIsher Cats order after the promotion of top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to AAA.
Trade #2: July 26th
Sent LHP J.A. Happ to the New York Yankees in exchange for INF Brandon Drury and minor league OF Billy McKinney. Happ went 11-6 for the Jays with a 4.05 ERA in 120 innings. He also posted a stellar 132:36 strikeout to walk ratio. Happ provides much needed stability to a Yankees rotation that has seen inconsistent performances from Luis Severino and Sonny Gray. Happ will also be counted on the stymie the bats of the rival Boston Red Sox, who have posted a .735 OPS against LHP compared to a league-leading .811 OPS against RHP.
Drury, a draft pick of the Atlanta Braves in 2010, made his MLB debut with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2015. He appeared in 289 games with the D-Backs over 3 seasons before being traded to the Yankees in February of this year. Drury was expected to be the starting third baseman for the Yankees, but had to be placed on the DL with severe migraines one week into the season. When he was ready to come back, rookie Miguel Andujar had taken his job and ran with it. Drury pinballed back and forth between New York and AAA Scranton, posting a .176 average with the Yankees in 51 at bats compared to a .291 in AAA. Capable of playing any infield position along with the corner outfield, Drury is a versatile utility man who provides depth to any roster. The Blue Jays are hopeful that they are getting the version of Drury who batted in the .275 range with 29 home runs over the course of 2016 and 2017 in Arizona.
McKinney, an Oakland first round pick in 2013, made his MLB debut with the Yankees this year, collecting a hit in four at bats. For his minor league career, he is slashing .271/.350/.428 and has played solid outfield defence. Many are speculating that McKinney could replace Curtis Granderson on the roster should he be dealt now or prior to the August 31 waiver deadline.
Trade # 3: July 30th
Sent RHP Roberto Osuna to the Houston Astros in exchange for RHP Ken Giles, RHP Hector Perez, and RHP David Paulino
Osuna, once seen as the closer of the next decade for the Blue Jays, saw it all come crashing down May 8th when he was arrested and charged with assaulting a woman whom he has a child with. Saddled with a 75-game suspension from Major League Baseball, Osuna is eligible to pitch once again on August 5th. With the case unresolved, the Jays had no choice but to trade their bullpen ace. Osuna could not have come back as if nothing had happened. Seeing him in a Blue Jays sweater again couldn’t happen. And it didn’t. To be frank, this was the best deal that the Blue Jays were going to get.
Giles can hit 100 mph with his fastball. He get strikeouts. He gets swinging strikes. Prior to this season, Giles looked to be locked in as the closer in Houston. He struggled with his slider this season, and along with issues with the management, wasn’t having a great time in Houston. He was actually in AAA at the time of the trade, but will join the Blue Jays bullpen immediately. He will be a free agent after 2020 while Osuna has team control until 2021, a minor detail when receiving three players in return. Multiple writers in the biz believe that if Giles pitches well, he could be traded by the Blue Jays by this time next year for more prospects.
Perez is a Dominican born starting pitcher. His fastball sits in the mid-to-upper 90s, and he boasts an impressive arsenal of secondary pitches. He has had issues with walks throughout his minor league career. Recent adjustments that he made to his delivery in June have seen him walk fewer batters and has performed to the level that had him ranked at #7 on Houston’s top-10 prospects list. Perez was put at #11 on a deep Blue Jays farm system by MLB Pipeline, in between Sean Reid-Foley and current MLB starter Ryan Borucki. The walks will need to be managed, but it is possible that he could compete for the rotation in 2020.
Paulino is more of a longshot, a lottery ticket prospect. He had Tommy John surgery in 2014, elbow tendinitis in 2016, and also violated team rules in 2016. Even after all of that, Baseball America ranked Paulino as the third best Astros prospect before the 2017 season. During the 2017 season, Paulino was suspended 80 games when he tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. The plus side with Paulino is that he does have some MLB experience. He appeared in 3 games in 2016, and started 6 games in 2017. In his 6 starts in 2017, Paulino pitched to a 6.52 ERA / 5.12 FIP / 4.11 xFIP, struck out 10.55/9 innings, walked 2.17/9 innings, but gave up 2.48 HR/9 innings. His ground ball rate was low, and his opponents BABIP was also .354. It’s a small sample size, but the fact that he does have the experience is a good thing. With the injuries and trades that have gutted the rotation, we could see him with the big club before season’s end.
Trade #4: July 31st
Sent LHP Aaron Loup to the Philadelphia Phillies for minor league RHP Jacob Waguespack.
Loup appeared in 50 games for the Blue Jays this season, covering 35.2 innings. With a 4.54 ERA, Loup is nothing special to the casual fan. However, he does strikeout 10.6/9 innings, and only 1 HR/9 innings. Opponents have a .385 BABIP off of him this season, far above his .310 average. The Phillies will use him as a one of two out pitcher.
Waguespack is a 24-year old, 37th-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2012 draft. He first appeared in the minor leagues in 2015 and has moved up the Phillies organizational ladder, reaching AAA after 7 AA starts this season. In his 8 starts in AAA, he has posted a 5.85 ERA, walking 15 against 36 strikeouts over 40 innings. He has had more success in relief, posting a 2.70 ERA in 6 appearances. The Blue Jays would like him to be a starter, and he will be given the opportunity to try at AAA Buffalo. At the time this article was published, Waguespack had 10 strikeouts through five innings against his former team on just 75 pitches.
Trade #5: July 31st
Sent RHP John Axford to the Los Angeles Dodgers for minor league RHP Corey Copping.
Axford had been solid in 45 games for the Blue Jays this season. The 35-year old Canadian owns a 4.41 ERA/3.72 xFIP this season and has struck out 8.82/9 innings while walking 3.53/9 innings. His ground ball rate is 53.3%, and he will slot in for middle relief with a Dodgers team locked in a division race.
Copping is a 31st round draft pick from the 2015 draft. He is a relief pitcher who strikes out better than 10/9 innings, but is also walking 4.68/9 innings in AA. He will report to the AA Fisher Cats and continue being average.
Notable Players not traded: OF Curtis Granderson, 3B Josh Donaldson, RHP Tyler Clippard, RHP Marco Estrada.