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Aledmys Diaz among Blue Jays trade pieces

TORONTO — The market for free-agent starters likely won’t be settled any time soon, and that’s one reason the Blue Jays are expected to spend the early stages of the offseason scouring for trades.

Toronto won’t be in the mix for the top group of starters reportedly on the block. Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Madison Bumgarner, James Paxton and others of similar pedigree don’t seem like realistic candidates, but a secondary tier will undoubtedly emerge in the coming weeks.

TORONTO — The market for free-agent starters likely won’t be settled any time soon, and that’s one reason the Blue Jays are expected to spend the early stages of the offseason scouring for trades.

Toronto won’t be in the mix for the top group of starters reportedly on the block. Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Madison Bumgarner, James Paxton and others of similar pedigree don’t seem like realistic candidates, but a secondary tier will undoubtedly emerge in the coming weeks.

Pitchers with one year of control remaining — such as New York’s Sonny Gray and Pittsburgh’s Ivan Nova — could be of interest. Arizona’s Robbie Ray is another possibility, while some of the bounce-back candidates include Kansas City’s Danny Duffy and Tyler Chatwood of the Cubs.

The Blue Jays have the flexibility required to be creative. They have the available resources to add a starter through free agency, the depth in the Minor Leagues to facilitate a deal and some intriguing pieces — particularly in the infield — at the big league level who could be shopped to fill areas of need.

With the annual Winter Meetings less than a month away, here’s a closer look at what the Blue Jays have to offer up:

Video: TB@TOR: Diaz, Gurriel Jr. combine for a smooth DP

IF Aledmys Diaz
The Blue Jays bought low on Diaz last offseason when they acquired him for Minor League outfielder J.B. Woodman. Injuries to Troy Tulowitzki and Josh Donaldson opened the door for Diaz to play more often than expected, and he responded with a career-high 18 home runs in 422 at-bats. Diaz also proved capable of handling shortstop and third base, and there’s little doubt he could handle second in a pinch as well. The 28-year-old Diaz regained value this year, and he’s not eligible for free agency until after the 2022 season. Toronto has too many infielders, so something has to give.

Video: TB@TOR: Travis plates Jansen with a single to right

2B Devon Travis
Travis’ 2018 season was a bit of a mixed bag. The big positive was that he stayed healthy for the first time in his career, and he appeared in 103 games despite a lengthy stint in the Minors. The downside is that Travis underperformed with the bat and slashed .232/.275/.381. That’s not going to get it done, but this is the same player who posted at least a .785 OPS in back-to-back seasons in ’15-16. Other teams might be looking to buy low, and while Travis might not net much of a return on his own, he could be packaged with others.

Video: TOR@SEA: Drury pulls RBI double down the line in 9th

IF/OF Brandon Drury
On the surface, it would be unusual for the Blue Jays to shop Drury just a few months after acquiring him from the Yankees. The 26-year-old remains under club control for the next three years, so he’s an option for the present and the future. There are a lot of reasons to keep him, but Drury’s versatility might be a luxury the Blue Jays don’t need. Toronto is flush with options around the infield, and he is exactly the type of player that contending teams love to have. If a reliable arm with similar control is offered up for Drury, it would be hard for the Blue Jays to say no.

Video: BOS@TOR: Stroman fans 4 over 7 terrific innings

RHP Marcus Stroman or Aaron Sanchez
It might seem counterintuitive to acquire pitching by dealing away one of the only high-ceiling arms left, but Toronto needs to be open-minded. Stroman and Sanchez have just two years of control remaining, and their timelines don’t match up with that of the rebuilding Blue Jays. Despite all of that, a trade this offseason seems somewhat unrealistic because both pitchers are coming off injury-plagued seasons and their values have taken a hit. Expect Toronto to shop these two next summer, and when it eventually happens, young controllable pitching will be the ideal return.

Prospect capital
The Blue Jays have a slew of prospects who are eligible for next month’s Rule 5 Draft. The only way to guarantee protection is by placing them on the 40-man roster, but with four vacancies, there won’t be enough room for everyone. Outfielder Forrest Wall and right-handed pitchers Jacob Waguespack, Hector Perez, Jordan Romano, Jon Harris, Patrick Murphy, Yennsy Diaz and Jackson McClelland are some of the names who fall into this category. One option is packaging a couple of these prospects along with a higher-ranked player in the search for big league pitching.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.



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