Will the Blue Jays Trade One of Their Big Bats for Pitching?

To get talent you have to give up talent.

It was a lesson the Blue Jays learned quite well at the 2015 trade deadline. They dealt 11 pitching prospects for the likes of Troy Tulowitzki, David Price, Ben Revere and others. The immediacy of “getting” was felt right away, but the “giving” part is something that has yet to play out.

Things are in a constant state of flux these days in Blue Jays Land and things are anything but status quo down at 1 Blue Jays Way. With a new president and a yet-to-be-named replacement for Alex Anthopoulos, the Blue Jays still need to go about their business of improving the ball club.


As impressive as they were in 2015, the Toronto Blue Jays in their current state have some big holes to fill; namely in the starting rotation. Here’s where it comes back to the giving up talent to get talent in return.

This has many questioning whether the Blue Jays might trade one of their big bats for some pitching; namely Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, or to a lesser extent, Troy Tulowitzki.

First and foremost, before trade talks even enter the preliminary stages, the Blue Jays seriously need to ask themselves if they foresee a scenario where one or both Bautista and Encarnacion will continue to be with the team beyond 2016.

And if that isn’t the case, then maybe they really should look at trading one of them.

There will be plenty of teams lining up inquire about the services of Troy Tulowitzki, but the Blue Jays would invariably be selling quite low on Tulo. Not to mention, Tulowitzki is one of the few players on the roster locked up long term.

The prospect of trading Troy Tulowitzki is one that involves many layers and is probably best saved for another day. But in the immediate future, the focus shifts to two players whose options were just picked up for the 2016 season: Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.

The Cons of Trading Bautista or Encarnacion

Jose and Edwin have been faces of the Blue Jays franchise for the past five years, so it’s incredibly difficult to imagine this team without them. But if they walk as free agents at the end of 2016 anyway, the long term landscape might not include those guys.

Personally, I can’t envision a successful Blue Jays team in the short term without Jose Bautista or Edwin Encarnacion. Perhaps less now than before, but they both are coming off monster seasons for the Blue Jays.


Trading a big bat from the heart of the lineup isn’t an ideal situation for a team trying to get back into the playoffs. Typically, when a team like the Blue Jays break through into the postseason and make a decent run, they want to add upon the talent that’s there, not take away from it.

Even if the Blue Jays were to get a half-decent starting pitcher for one of their big bats, in many ways it would feel like taking a step backwards in the short term. It would be very challenging task to replace their offensive output. 40 home run/100 RBI guys are a rare commodity these days.

Bautista and Encarnacion are elite power hitters, but I really don’t foresee a situation where one of them alone could fetch a young, stud starting pitcher in return.

The Jays would only be giving up one year of control for these guys; something that may appeal to a “win now” team, but admittedly is an incredibly short window to give up a top pitching prospect or Major Leaguer for.

The Pros of Trading Bautista or Encarnacion

The reality is this; trading Bautista or Encarnacion may be a necessary evil for the Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays have a surplus on offense and a desperate need for starting pitching.


If the Blue Jays are out of the running for some of the top and mid-tier free agent pitchers, the Jays might not have a choice but to trade one of their big bats for some pitching help.

Think about how hard it’s been for the Blue Jays to convince free agent starting pitchers to come to Toronto. Over the past few years, the Jays have augmented their starting rotation predominantly through trades and developing starters from the farm system; not bringing in marquee free agents.

Even if Aaron Sanchez and Roberto Osuna are shifted into the Blue Jays’ starting rotation plans, that still leaves at least one empty spot in the rotation and not a lot of depth behind them.

If the Blue Jays do have a solid farm system in place, no one player should be irreplaceable. But there’s solace in the fact that there are other places where the Blue Jays could make up the offense if they lost one of Bautista and Encarnacion.

In previous years, Jose and Edwin carried this team offensively, but with production now coming from virtually every other position on the diamond, one can feel a little more comfortable with the prospect of losing a big bat.

Now there’s Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, Russell Martin and Kevin Pillar to potentially negate a loss of one of their bigger bats in the lineup.

The other area where a loss of Bautista or Encarnacion doesn’t hurt the club as much is run prevention. For a team that was revered for its much-improved defense in 2015, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion weren’t beneficial in the field.

If anything, Jose Bautista actually had one of his worst seasons defensively in 2015. At 35 years old, Bautista’s days in the outfield are numbered. Edwin does an admirable job at first base, but he’s no Gold Glover.

Image via Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.

6 thoughts on “Will the Blue Jays Trade One of Their Big Bats for Pitching?

  • November 4, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    I think there's a couple semi-comparables from recent history. The Braves got Shelby Miller for 1 year of Jason Heyward tho their 1-year-of-Upton deal netted mostly prospects from San Diego. The Red Sox got Porcello for 1 year of Cespedes. While the overall abilities might be not-extremely-far-off, I'm not sure if those guys had the franchise-branding-and-tenure-value that Bautista & EE have for their respective clubs.

  • November 5, 2015 at 1:15 am

    as "10 and 5" guys, either Bautista or EE would have the right to veto any trade so there's a good possibility the idea of trading them is moot.

    • November 5, 2015 at 2:28 pm

      Seeing how close they are too, I doubt either of them would waive their no-trade to go to another team and split up. We all saw how trading Reyes affected Bautista, him and EE and Reyes are just really close friends

  • November 5, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    The Jays have 4 young arms with a big upside (Hutchison, Stroman, Sanchez, and Osuna). They have two other guys who had a great second half this season (Dickey and Estrada–when they sign him). The have a good closer candidate in Brett Cecil. They have a good long man with Liam Hendricks.

    Plus they have $40M freed up from Buehrle, Price, Romero, Hawkins, Lowe, etc. to sign free agents. I really don't see the desperate need for pitching. I certainly wouldn't trade the big boys to get some (most have no trade deals anyway).

    Spending the $40M should get some pitching depth.

    • November 5, 2015 at 9:41 pm

      4 young arms with upside…ok…lets say they all pitch great…what happens when injuries occur…who is behind them that can jump up and perform…no one. Also relying on upside over experience is not a recipe for winning. Sanchez is not a starter…he will he given a chance this year but the bullpen is his future. Osuna has yet to pitch 100 innings…I think the bullpen is also his future…at least for the coming year…so who fills the gaps?

    • November 5, 2015 at 10:38 pm

      Jays will likely go after a Gallardo type arm that they can get for 3-4 years @ 15 mill per. I sense this will be the type of offer to Estrada and hopefully they nail him. That would make a rotation of Stroman, Dickey, Hutch and potentially 2 solid FAs. Expect your 6th and 7th starters to be guys like a Francis, C Young, type that are on 1 year deals for a few mill or performance bonuses.

      I doubt they land any of the big arms like a Price or Greinke and I wouldn't want to see Cueto in a Jays uni. Jordan Zimmerman is one I think they can go after – but I even think J Zimms lands 5 yrs at $20 mill per and not sure if the Jays will go that high.

      I agree Sanchez and Osuna stay in the pen. U need a strong pen and I see Cecil as a better 7th/8th inning guy and match against the lefties versus a closer role.

      jays need pitching help I see them getting it on the FA market. They could trade Devon Travis for a pitcher. I wouldn't be surprised to see Tulo moved at some point – but agreed he is at a market low and wait on him to get a boatload of talent.

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