Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins: evaluating their Blue Jays trades

The new front office headed by Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins has now been in charge for three offseasons, and while that’s far too early for definitive judgments, it is enough to start making some reasonable evaluations. Thus over a series of posts, I want to comprehensively examine what they’ve done over the first three years of their tenure. Part 1 looked at free agent signings.

In this second post we’ll move on to trades. This is a lot messier, in that it’s not as simple as looking at production and salary as with free agents. Further, many of the deals — especially where prospects have been acquired — have not run their course and not much can be said definitively. Nonetheless, we’ll go through all the moves, mostly from the perspective of exchanges of value and with broader strategic considerations held for later.

  1. 11/20/2015: Liam Hendriks for Jesse Chavez
    I hated this deal. Chavez was poor in the AL East as I feared. Hendriks has been up and down since and not fully reprised his breakout 2015 form — but has still posted 150 cheap innings of 4.01 ERA (3.24 FIP) with one last year of control. A bad trade in my books, but not catastrophic.
  2. 1/8/2016: Ben Revere for Drew Storen and cash
    The rare lose/lose deal as both players collapsed in stunning fashion. I still maintain as a general rule one doesn’t want to trade two years of a positional player who’s been close to an everyday regular for one year of a reliever.
  3. 5/31/2016: Acquired Jason Grilli
    A quality no cost pick-up that helped stabilize and bolster the bullpen, with the kicker of a cheap 2017 option. Alas the magic ran out by then but that was a different decision.
  4. 7/26/2016: Joaquin Benoit for Drew Storen
    A fresh start swap that worked out on both sides, though Benoit was even better so a small win despite not having him for the playoffs.
  5. 7/26/2016: Hansel Rodriguez for Melvin Upton Jr.
    Upton looked like a solid acquisition for the 2016 stretch run, but was ultimately replacement level before being cast off before Opening Day 2017. The book is still open as Rodriguez is still a prospect. Ultimately, it’ll be at least a small loss, but the magnitude and impact remain to be determined.
  6. 8/1/2016: Drew Hutchison for Francisco Liriano, Reese McGuire, and Harold Ramirez
    This was heralded as a major coup. Two years later, it’s certainly still a coup, as Liriano bolstered the rotation when it mattered even if he was bad in 2017. McGuire figured to have a long MLB career in some capacity. Harold Ramirez mashed in 2018 but was allowed to leave as a free agent. Drew Hutchison continued to regress; I’d still like to know what happened to the guy who found a hammer breaking ball in the second half of 2014.
  7. 8/1/2016: Jesse Chavez for Mike Bolsinger
    The very definition of a nothingburger.
  8. 8/1/2016: Guadalupe Chavez for Scott Feldman
    I didn’t think Feldman was a good fit for the role he was acquired to fill, and he got lit up out of the Jays pen. On the other hand, Chavez walked away from baseball not a year later at the ripe old age of 19. We’ll call it a wash.
  9. 8/26/2016: Colton Turner for Dioner Navarro
    Navarro was forgettable as a depth acquisition. I actually liked Turner as a lefty reliever with interesting stuff, he still hasn’t made the majors but could yet be interesting.
  10. 7/3/2017: Acquired Miguel Montero
    The Jays were flailing for catching help and took a no/low cost flyer; he was yet another terrible 2017 backstop. Realistically the season was dead anyway when they got him.
  11. 7/23/2017: Ryan McBroom for Rob Refsnyder
    McBroom had a nice season in 2018, though it’s still hard to see him profiling as a major league 1B. In the end, this trade probably gets forgotten entirely, but was giving Refsnyder a shot cameo really worth giving up the potential of McBroom?
  12. 7/31/2017: Francisco Liriano and cash for Teoscar Hernandez and Nori Aoki
    Eating the rest of Aoki’s contract and some of Liriano’s remaining cash essentially bought Teoscar for the Jays. Liriano was unimportant for Houston, but there’s still an opportunity cost for Tesocar to live up to. Too early to grade.
  13. 7/31/2017: Joe Smith for Thomas Pannone and Samad Taylor
    This outcome is a long time from being called. There’s two philosophical ways of grading this (and later trades in the same genre). Even if the prospects don’t amount to anything, Smith wasn’t going to do anything for the Jays, so it’s not a loss regardless. But Smith clearly has value (and was very good for Cleveland), so there’s an opportunity cost against which to measure the prospects. I tend towards the latter.
  14. 8/19/2017: Osman Gutierrez for Tom Koehler
    Koehler was non-tendered and Gutierrez released this year, so just a footnote. Still not sure why they did this.
  15. 12/1/2017: J.B. Woodman for Aledmys Diaz
    The Jays got a very useful MLB player, if not an everyday regular, with plenty of cheap team control for a prospect soon released. That’s about as clean a trade win as you get, if not a hugely impactful deal.
  16. 1/6/2018: Edward Olivares for Yangervis Solarte
    Olivares is an interesting lottery ticket prospect, but would have been stuck behind an OF glut with the Jays. Solarte was sub-replacement overall, but like Liriano was very good when it most mattered.
  17. 1/19/2018: Dominic Leone and Conner Greene for Randal Grichuk
    This is looking like another big win, and goes to the general point of betting on everyday regular types over relievers. Greene has already been lost on waivers, Leone was just okay when healthy, where Grichuk was arguably the best Jay over the last four months. Still a long way to go before final judgment.
  18. 6/28/2012: Steve Pearce for Santiago Espinal
    I’m skeptical Espinal amounts to more than an up or down guy at best, and the Jays ate cash to send Pearce to a hated division rival to whom he was very, very useful en route to winning a World Series. Not saying they shouldn’t have done it, but it sucks.
  19. 7/26/2018: J.A. Happ for Brandon Drury and Billy McKinney
    The caveat is that even if he was the best starting pitcher rental, the Jays were still price-takers on Happ and the market was soft. We’ll see how the acquirees work out, but I don’t love the return.
  20. 7/26/2018: Swung-hwan Oh for Forrest Wall, Chad Spanburger and Bryan Baker
    Given how good Oh was and the cheap 2019 option that gave them the alternate of waiting until this winter without being price takers, I’m not sure the return was good enough. If the prospects don’t work out, this is a loss.
  21. 7/30/2018: Roberto Osuna for Ken Giles, David Paulino and Hector Perez
    There were obviously extenuating circumstances here, and we’ll never be able to evaluate this purely on baseball merits, but even then it’s still super early.
  22. 7/31/2018: John Axford for Corey Copping
  23. 7/31/2018: Aaron Loup for Jacob Waguespack
    Waguespack was a surprise addition to the 40-man last month
  24. 8/31/2018: Curtis Granderson for Demi Oriomoloye
  25. 8/31/2018: Josh Donaldson for Julian Merryweather
    The handling of Donaldson was super controversial, and ultimately belongs more in a discussion of strategy. In terms of value, we’ll see what Merryweather does.

Other MLB trades: Acquired Gift Ngoepe (11/20/2017), Sam Gaviglio (3/21/2018), Gio Urshela (5/22/2018); all for cash/PTBNL

How to evaluate all this? My framework would be to evaluate each deal along two dimensions. The first would be a five point value scale from -2 to 2, where 0 is a wash, 1 or -1 is a win or loss, and 2 or -2 is a huge win or huge loss (in terms of relative value exchanged). The second dimension would be importance or impact of the trade on a four point scale of 0 to 3 where 0 is an immaterial move and 3 is a franchise altering move (of which I don’t think there have been any since AA left).

Then the two numbers would be multiplied for an overall point value from -6 to 6 for each deal. Then just add up each deal, with deals where it’s too early to say anything graded incomplete and left out. There are seven trades I think that be reasonably evaluated that don’t net to zero (graded 0 in value or with impact graded 0):

-2 value: None
-1 value: Upton/Rodriguez, Hendriks/Chavez
+1 value: Leone/Grichuk, Hutchison/Liriano (+1.5), Grilli, Benoit/Storen
+2 value: Diaz/Woodman

Impact level 1: Diaz/Woodman, Benoit/Storen, Upton/Rodriguez, Grilli, Hendriks/Chavez
Impact level 2: Leone/Grichuk, Hutchison/Liriano
Impact level 3: None

That results in two trades at -1, two at +1. two at +2, one at +3 for a net of +7 across the seven completed deals. Of course, that’s only part of the story, since I’d put 11 of the deals at incomplete where it’s really to early to say much of anything. If one is not high on the returns for the likes of Happ, Donaldson, Oh, Osuna etc, that could easily be wiped out.

Poll

The grade for Shapiro/Atkins trades should be:

  • 2%

    A

    (4 votes)

  • 9%

    High-B

    (15 votes)

  • 46%

    Low-B

    (76 votes)

  • 29%

    C

    (47 votes)

  • 8%

    D

    (14 votes)

  • 3%

    F

    (6 votes)



162 votes total

Vote Now

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