Well it’s begun. By trading Steve Pearce to the Red Sox, the Blue Jays have set the wheels in motion for what will undoubtedly be a busy month for a franchise looking to the future by beefing-up their already strong prospect pool.
Some Blue Jay fans will argue the point of trading with a division rival like Boston. Well believe me, that sort of sentiment is even stronger coming from Red Sox nation who cringe at the thought of any of their prospects playing for the Blue Jays. When it comes to trading their veterans, the Blue Jays simply need to take the best offer, regardless if it comes from the Red Sox, Yankees, or whoever it may be.
Trading away Steve Pearce was a given anyway. The trio of Kevin Pillar, Teoscar Hernandez, and Randal Grichuk have solidified their place in the Blue Jays outfield. And with Curtis Granderson acting as the 4th outfielder, it made little sense for Toronto to hold onto a 35-year old soon to be free agent in Pearce. The Blue Jays meanwhile receive 23-year old prospect Santiago Espinal who’s been in the Red Sox farm system since being drafted in the 10th round of the 2016 MLB draft. Espinal has been used primarily at shortstop, while also spending some time at 2nd and 3rd base. In high-A Salem this season, he’s posted an impressive slash line of .314/.364/.478 with 7 HR, 32 RBI, and 9 SB in 64 games.
The Blue Jays had to start moving some of their players sooner or later. With the injury to Josh Donaldson, Toronto couldn’t risk any of their other pending free agents getting hurt only to see their trade value go down the drain. With Pearce coming off the DL on June 22, and displaying a more than impressive bat in limited time this season (.291 AVG), Ross Atkins couldn’t have chose a better time to move the solid hitting utility man.
With the addition of Espinal, the Blue Jays are definitely beginning to accumulate a respectable number of solid middle infielders down in the minors. Even before yesterday’s trade, eight players on Toronto’s Top 30 prospects list play either SS or 2B. Including Bo Bichette (#2), Logan Warmoth (#5), Richard Urena (#11), Samad Taylor (#13), Kevin Smith (#18), Cavan Biggio (#19), Leonardo Jimenez (#22), and Kevin Vicuna (#23). Not to mention their 2018 1st round draft pick, Jordan Groshans, who also happens to play SS.
By trading Pearce, it spells the beginning of an aggressive Blue Jays sell-off that will carry on right up until the July 31 trade deadline. After which, an already respectable Blue Jays farm system should become one of the premiere systems in all of baseball and something that will hopefully initiate their climb back to the top of the AL East in the near future.