In a stunning move just before Opening Day, the Toronto Blue Jays have traded designated hitter Kendrys Morales to the Oakland A’s for minor league infielder Jesus Lopez and international bonus money.
The trade is surprising because the talk around spring was that Morales’s presence, despite getting in the way of Rowdy Tellez‘s big league opportunity, was an excellent one, particularly for other Latin-American players like fellow Cuban Lourdes Gurriel and Dominicans Teoscar Hernandez, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Richard Urena. While he had a solid season (after a poor start) in 2018, Morales was in the last year of his contract, earning $12 million and the Blue Jays are going to be picking up $10 million of that figure in the trade.
Coming back to the Blue Jays in the trade is 22-year-old Nicaraguan infielder Jesus Lopez who has yet to play above A-ball. Lopez was an international free agent in 2013 and hit .239/.293/.402 in 84 games with the Beloit Snappers in the Midwest League with 15 doubles, two triples and 10 home runs. Lopez, in five minor league seasons, has only once hit above the .239 he hit last year and has only had two seasons with an OBP over .300. While he showed never-seen-before glimpses of power in 2018, he doesn’t have a track record of being a prospect known for his hitting. In fact, he doesn’t crack the Top 30 prospects list for either MLB.com or Baseball America.
As far as I can tell, Rowdy Tellez has not yet been optioned to Buffalo, meaning that he can stay with the club on the 25-man roster immediately (had he been optioned in the last 10 days, he would have been unable to come back to Toronto unless someone was going on the injured list). This opens up a huge opportunity for 23-year-old Tellez who burst on the scene last year, hitting .280/.308/.600 with a double and five home runs this spring while hitting a very similar .314/.329/.614 with nine doubles and four home runs in 23 games in September last year.
While Tellez coming up to Toronto is a logical move, Shi Davidi instead is reporting that a source tells him that Anthony Alford is likely to take that roster spot and is on his way back to the club. This might give the Jays a way to get Teoscar Hernandez’s bat into the lineup without having to suffer his defense (which has been reported as better this season.
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