With the Toronto Blue Jays ready to deal starting pitching, should the San Diego Padres explore a possible deal?
The Toronto Blue Jays could begin trading away veterans for young players to build around their top prospects, according to Mike Johnston of Sportsnet.
In an article published to sportsnet.ca on May 1, Johnston said that the Blue Jays calling up MLB No. 1 prospect Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. “could merely end up being the tip of the iceberg.”
Johnston included a quote from MLB Insider Ken Rosenthal in his article, who said he had been told that the Blue Jays might trade veterans like Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez and Justin Smoak for young assets as part of a rebuild. The Blue Jays have three promising prospects in their top 30: Guerrero, Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio.
News of the San Diego Padres’ interest in acquiring a veteran starting pitcher, be it through free agency or a trade, has been quiet in recent weeks. That could change if Stroman and Sanchez are to become available shortly. But what would it take?
Still boasting the best farm system in baseball, the Padres have a stockpile of talent in their minor league system. With the talent either already at the major league level or arriving in the majors soon, some of their prospects are sure to find themselves blocked from debuting in the majors with the Padres.
One of those prospects looks to be Josh Naylor. Naylor can play first base or a corner outfield spot. First base belongs to Eric Hosmer until at least 2022, which could stretch to 2025 if Hosmer chooses to play the final three years of his eight-year contract.
The two corner outfield spots are split between three players – Wil Myers, Hunter Renfroe, and Franmil Reyes. Once Travis Jankowski and Franchy Cordero return from the Injured List, the Padres will have six outfielders on their major league roster.
Sending Naylor to Toronto in a trade gives the Blue Jays a young, quality-hitting outfielder to add to their rebuild. Naylor is currently .305/.393/.590 with an 11.5 percent strikeout rate at Triple-A El Paso. Throw in the fact that Naylor is from Canada, and Toronto has a marketable player on their roster.
Another prospect who is potentially blocked is Austin Allen. The Padres’ No. 20 prospect is currently catching at Triple-A El Paso. The two catchers at the major league level are Austin Hedges and Francisco Mejia. Behind Allen in the system are No. 18 prospect Luis Campusano and No. 30 prospect Blake Hunt. The Padres have plenty of catching depth, and Allen looks to be the odd man in the middle.
Packaging these two prospects with a pitcher could be what it takes to acquire Stroman, who currently leads the American League in ERA (1.43). MacKenzie Gore and Luis Patino aren’t going anywhere, as both pitchers are expected to debut in the majors in 2020. The Padres also are high on Ryan Weathers, whom they selected with the No. 6 overall pick in 2018.
This is just one scenario to acquire Stroman or Sanchez from the Blue Jays. The Padres’ young rotation has been impressive through the first month of the season, but the rotation as is, without a quality veteran leading the way, won’t keep the Padres in the contention discussion past the All-Star break.