The Toronto Blue Jays got their fire sale under way with two trades on Sunday that hope to stock the minor league system with some more talent. The Blue Jays traded Eric Sogard to the Tampa Bay Rays for two Players to Be Named Later and traded Marcus Stroman to the New York Mets for pitchers Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods Richardson.
The writing had been on the wall for weeks as the Blue Jays were known to be shopping pretty much any player over the age of 25 who didn’t figure to be part of the club’s future. While debates raged about whether it would be wiser to re-sign Marcus Stroman, it’s obvious that there was some reason that the front office wanted to go forward with the rebuild without Stroman.
I’ve thought that the players coming back for Marcus Stroman should constitute a better package than the Jays got for J.A. Happ last year. While there still remains a (small) chance for Billy McKinney to play his way into a long-term starting role on the Blue Jays, it’s clear that Brandon Drury isn’t going to be a contributor for much longer. So who did the Blue Jays get back in return?
The Blue Jays receive 24-year-old lefty Anthony Kay (whose photo on Baseball Reference looks somewhat like Brett Cecil) who had reached Triple-A for the Mets and was a late first-round pick for the Mets in 2016. Kay came out of the University of Connecticut and immediately had Tommy John surgery, making his pro debut in 2018. MLB.com likes his “high-spin-rate fastball” that sits 92-94 with a “plus curveball . . . that also has elite spin rate.” Kay had a strong showing in Double-A Binghamton this year, tossing 66 1/3 innings with a 1.49 ERA and 0.92 WHIP, striking out 70 and walking just 23. He’s struggled a bit since making the transition to Triple-A, posting a 6.61 ERA and 1.63 WHIP, striking out 26 and walking 11 and his walk rate stayed steady while his strikeout rate dropped significantly. Also significant is that he’s given up FAR more home runs in about half the innings in Triple-A (seven HRs in 31 1/3 innings) than he did in Double-A and it’s probably a combination of being able to fool hitters less at the higher level as well as the use of the major league ball. MLB.com currently has Kay sitting as the Jays’ #5 prospect following the trade.
Simeon Woods-Richardson was pitching for the Class-A Columbia Fireflies as an 18-year-old (he doesn’t turn 19 until the end of September) after being drafted in the second round of the 2018 draft by the Mets. He only pitched 17 1/3 innings in his draft year and has logged 78 1/3 frames in 20 starts for the Fireflies in 2019, posting a 4.25 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, striking out 97 and walking only 17. MLB.com gives him a 60 grade for his fastball, noting that his fastball sat around 93 mph in his first taste of pro ball, touching 97 while he has a “quick arm from a high-three-quarters slot” that helps him with a curveball that “shows plus potential and he already demonstrates some feel for turning over an effective changeup.” MLB.com ranks Woods-Richardson as the Jays’ #7 prospect after the trade.
Eric Sogard getting traded opens up a roster that the Blue Jays are apparently handing to Bo Bichette. Bichette came out of his game in Buffalo in the bottom of the third inning and it was reported by Shi Davidi that he is indeed coming up to the majors. Whether this means that Freddy Galvis will also be traded is a big question but I would expect Bichette to play every day (or maybe five to six times a week) if he’s in the majors, and will probably get the bulk of his reps at shortstop.
One more move that hasn’t gone unnoticed is the call up of Thomas Pannone to start today’s game against the Kansas City Royals.
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