TORONTO- Blue Jays’ GM Ross Atkins took a creative approach prior to the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline. Despite sleepless hours and non-stopping phone calls, Atkins was able to add some depth with their pitching and two prospects.
The 59-47 Blue Jays got a lot deeper without making blockbuster deals for big names like Chris Sale. Atkins managed to bring in experience veterans with Francisco Liriano from Pittsburgh Pirates, Scott Feldman from Houston Astros and Mike Bolsinger from the Los Angeles Dodgers. As bonuses they were able to get rid of the weak link of Jesse Chavez and add two of the top Pirates’ prospects in catcher Reese McGuire and outfielder Harold Ramirez.
These moves impacted the Blue Jays’ short and long term outlook going forward.
With Francisco Liriano, the 32-year old southpaw brings experience in the rotation with playoff experience. However, Liriano is coming off a terrible 2016 season with a 5.46 ERA and leading the National League with 69 walks. Prior to his horrendous season, Liriano posted a 3.26 ERA with a 9.6 K/9 innings from 2013-2015 and two of those seasons were with Russell Martin behind the plate. The Jays will hand over the responsibility to Martin to make sure that Liriano could bounce back in the 2nd half like J.A. Happ did last season. They will eat up the remaining of Liriano’s contract as they will eat up 13.67 million thru 2017.
It appears that Liriano will replace potential CY Young Award candidate Aaron Sanchez in the rotation as Ross Atkins formally announce that Sanchez will indeed be put back in the bullpen. Not sure why the Blue Jays would do that given the fact that Sanchez is their best starter. Guess they wanna to protect their youngster’s arm to avoid what Stephen Statsburg or Matt Harvey went through.
Looking the long-term outlook, the Blue Jays’ rotation seem pretty set for 2017. With RA. Dickey a free agent after this season, the rotation will be set with Sanchez, Liriano, Marcus Stroman, Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ for next season. That’s a solid rotation on paper.
Feldman and Bolsinger provide amount of depth within their pitching. Feldman pitched really well out the Houston Astros’ bullpen with a 2.97 ERA. The 33-year old righty is likely to take over the long relief role for the Blue Jays. Bolsinger is likely to replace Drew Hutchison in the rotation for the Buffalo Bisons. Both could be able to make spot starts barring any injuries.
Usually contending teams would part ways with their prospects to improve their major league ball clubs. However, Atkins manage to do the impossible by adding two of the top ten prospects from the Pirates. McGuire was a former first round pick in 2013 MLB Draft. McGuire is one of the best defensive catcher in the minor leagues, though there are questions with his bat. Ramirez has a .307 batting average and a .354 on-base percentage. Both have been assigned to New Hampshire Fisher Cats in Double A.
With 1.0 game behind Balitmore Orioles for the A.L. East Division, the Blue Jays are looking to take the A.L. pennant race and win a trip back to the World Series. The Blue Jays are a much better today than they were yesterday. Now its is up to the players to get the job done. They came short last year and now they are willing to take a step forward to win a World Series since 1993. Remember those glory days Blue Jays Fans? It would be fascinating to watch again for the city of Toronto.