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The Blue Jays, the Reds and the Thor Conundrum

The Reds are reported to be pursuing a trade for Noah Syndergaard, but the trade fit is not there.  Might the Jays be a particularly good fit as a third party?

The Mets are reported to be shopping Noah Syndergaard, with his power arm and two years of team control.  Their ask is a bit unusual, though – rather than the usual ask of one of two top-tier prospects, the Mets are reported to be looking to “fill multiple holes with real impact”, that is, with multiple players who are MLB-ready.

The Reds are reported to be serious Thor suitors, but they have a problem.  They have an excellent farm system – ranked 7th in the majors by mlb.com – but many of their top prospects (Trammell, Greene, India, Santillan) are still at least two years away.  The Reds could, of course, make up a package from existing MLB assets, but the point in their trading for Thor is that they hope to contend immediately, and trading current assets would just fill one weakness by creating others.

It sure would be great if there existed a team who could bridge this gap.  A team with the major league assets that the Mets need, who would be willing to take back top prospects with a 2020 or 2021 ETA.

A team like the Blue Jays?

The Jays have many potential trade chips, and the potential clearly exists to package some of them for a better prospect return.  And, with 2019 a rebuilding year, taking back longer-term prospects would be less of a hardship.

As for example …

The Mets need a catcher, centre fielder, infield help, and a strong bullpen piece.  Imagine a deal where the Mets get some combination of McGuire + Pillar + Drury + Giles, the Reds get Thor, and the Jays get Taylor Trammell (likely with other pieces to balance things out).

Taylor (no, not related to Alan) is a 70-grade-speed outfielder currently ranked as mlb.com’s #17 prospect, with a 2021 MLB ETA.  He is projected to play centre and lead off.  Mlb.com gives him an overall grade of 60 – which (for context) is the same that they give Bo Bichette

Would the Mets do this deal?  The Mariners got a #31 prospect (Justus Sheffield) plus two lottery tickets for James Paxton.  Thor and Maple are similar in that they have two years of team control, they are awesome when they are on, and they both come with injury issues.  I would argue that the Jays package is, in aggregate, equal to a Sheffield.

Would Cincy do it?  You could argue that a #17 prospect is more valuable than a #31, but Trammell (being younger) also come with more risk.

And would the Jays consider it?  Pillar and Drury are likely not part of the Vladdy-era future, and a rebuilding team does not need a Giles-level closer.  They would (in my opinion) be selling high on McGuire, whose 146 wRC+ in a tiny sample size with Toronto in 2018 was almost double the 86 he put up in AAA.

Next: Blue Jays leave talented group of players unprotected

The bottom line

The scenario where the Jays are a catalyst for a contending team to acquire Thor does not only work with Cincinnati.  Even if another acquiring team had Sheffield-level MLB-ready assets to spare, they might well want to keep them for their own 2019, and instead deal longer-term prospects.  Which could suit the Jays just fine.

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