Jack Flaherty

It’s hard to think of a better young pitcher than Jack Flaherty…and yet the Blue Jays passed on him last off-season when the Cardinals offered him and another player for Josh Donaldson.

Word has it that the Blue Jays were offered one of the finest pitching prospects going last winter for Josh Donaldson and actually declined the offer.  The proposed deal was to send Donaldson to St.Louis in exchange for the highly touted Jack Flaherty and an unknown player.  I’d wager to say that unknown player was Randal Grichuk.

If, as a Blue Jays fan you ever wonder why low budget teams like Tampa Bay and Oakland enjoy more success than the Blue Jays, it’s because they know when to sell high on someone.  Toronto needs to have a better sense of when to part with a player, because it doesn’t take much understanding of this game to know that the time to trade Donaldson was last winter.  This is why someone needs to pay the price for making the detrimental decision to keep Donaldson for one final year.  As an organization, the Blue Jays can’t afford to have someone in upper management (whether that person was Mark Shapiro or some Rogers know-it-all) making these kind of inexcusable mistakes.

I understand it’s painful to even talk about how good Flaherty is, seeing as the Blue Jays already missed out on their opportunity to acquire the talented pitcher.  But it’s something that must be discussed to ensure the Blue Jays learn from this error in judgement and avoid making such a mistake ever again.  In five seasons in the minors, the 22-year old Flaherty was 33-18 with a 2.73 ERA.  As you’d expect from such a talent, he’s carried that success over to the big leagues this season, where he’s gone 8-7 with a 2.86 ERA in 25 starts.  Flaherty is the kind of pitcher a team can build their rotation around for years to come.

Instead of making the trade, the Blue Jays, in all their wisdom, chose to keep Donaldson because they thought they’d actually have a shot of competing this year.  When you have maybe the greatest 3rd base prospect ever….along with a soon-to-be 33-year old 3rd baseman who’s a pending free agent…and a farm system lacking in quality starting pitchers, you have to be the most foolish organization in all of sports not to make a trade for a game-changer like Flaherty.

One thing I admire about teams like Tampa Bay and Oakland is they’re not afraid to pull the trigger when it comes to trading some of their most popular players.  They also aren’t afraid to upset their fanbase.  Knowing full well these sort of decisions, although unpopular at the time, will likely be what’s best for their club in the long-run.  The Blue Jays could learn a thing or two from teams like the Athletics and Rays.  Because if they had the foresight and balls to trade Donaldson when they should have, right now they’d have one of the most promising young pitchers in all of baseball.

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