A Crazy But Bold Toronto Blue Jays Trade Idea
I want to start this piece by saying it is purely a fun idea. Perhaps very outlandish and not very likely to happen but if GM Ross Atkins and CEO Mark Shapiro want to make a bold move at the trade deadline, perhaps this idea isn’t so out of the realm of possibilities. The idea I have been thinking of lately is looking to the lowly NL Central’s Milwaukee Brewers superstar Ryan Braun as a potential deadline acquisition.
Before I get into this piece, I do not think the Toronto Blue Jays need to add a front line starter like they so desperately needed in 2015 when they went out and acquired David Price from the Detroit Tigers. The pitching staff as currently constructed is among the leagues best right now. You could argue the Blue Jays have 3, maybe 4 frontline starters in Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, and Marco Estrada with Estrada currently being my Game 1 starter in a post-season series and even a 1 game Wild Card. J.A. Happ is the 4th who has been phenomenal and has proven to be a great #3 guy. R.A. Dickey has started to put it together as well.
The rotation is in very good shape even if Sanchez is put back in the bullpen later in the season because they have Drew Hutchison waiting in Buffalo. The bullpen could use a shutdown reliever at the deadline, which should be the top priority.
The offense has finally started to click and the lineup shuffling with Jose Bautista at the top of the order along with the return of Devon Travis has led to the offense of 2015 starting to show up in 2016. There are still guys who haven’t truly felt in a groove yet. Josh Donaldson being the first to admit he hasn’t truly felt like he has been in a groove. Troy Tulowitzki who currently finds himself on the DL also hasn’t kicked it in to typical Tulo gear. However, the offense has seemingly come around.
Now, the first thing I say as a massive objection to this idea is where Braun would even play. Left field? Michael Saunders has raked. 1st base? The Brewers have talked in the past of moving Braun to 1st base. But then do you sit Justin Smoak? Smoak has had a mighty fine season. That is the first of two major objections to pulling the trigger on such a massive move.
The second major objection is the acquisition cost of Braun. Braun is under Milwaukee’s control until 2020 with an option for 2021. He makes $19 million a season, which in my mind, isn’t crazy for a player of his calibre. The Brewers are in a big rebuild. They already have some nice young pieces but to get Braun, some top level Blue Jays prospects would need to be sent to Milwaukee.
The third objection to such a move would be the farm. Atkins and Shapiro have both acknowledged that the farm is in a whole lot better shape than they had thought after all the moves from 2015. They aren’t wrong. There are a ton of good pitching prospects in the lower tier of the minors and the position players are starting to make some noise of being up in the bigs in the next year or so.
After those two, I seriously think that Ryan Braun would make sense as a potential trade target. The first is the fact that he would slide into right field at seasons end should Jose Bautista end up not coming back to Toronto. Even if Bautista was to come back, Saunders is a free agent at seasons end and Braun could play left. For two months of 2016, John Gibbons would find himself with by far the scariest lineup in baseball and an even deeper bench with Smoak as the main power threat and defensive replacement at 1st base late in games.
The second is that if Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion both leave Toronto, Braun would be under contract until 2020 with an option for 2021. Braun would be in Toronto long term with the likes of Tulo, Russell Martin, and Donaldson. A scary 4 guys to build a team around. The only thing with this is, Martin starts earning $20 million as soon as next year, Donaldson gets a pay raise, and Tulo is around $20 million. That would be $76 million committed to 4 guys as Braun would be earning $19 million. That actually isn’t too crazy of a number. Braun would also be cheaper than an older Bautista who will earn north of $20 million after this season.
Adding Braun would cement the Blue Jays World Series chances for 2016. They have 2016 to win with Bautista and Encarnacion both under contract. Even after they leave, having a lineup with Braun, Donaldson, Tulo, and Martin would still be a World Series contender even without Bautista and Encarnacion, especially considering Happ, Stroman, Estrada, and Sanchez will be back in 2017, along with Hutchison joining as the #5 guy. Dickey would be gone.
It likely won’t happen but there is enough for me to somewhat justify even writing this piece. Braun fills in for Bautista in right in 2017 or at 1st base/DH for Edwin. He would also be cheaper than Bautista. Crazy? Yes. Possible? Likely not. Justifiable? I think so.