A little less than three weeks before the trade deadline, the Toronto Blue Jays, sitting at 41-47 and 8.5 games out of first place in the American League East, have begun notifying teams that they are willing to entertain offers for starting pitchers Francisco Liriano and Marco Estrada, as well as relievers Joe Smith and JP Howell, league sources tell FanRag Sports.
All four players are slated to be free agents at the end of the season. Gideon Turk of BP Toronto was first to report Toronto’s trade plans.
In addition to those four, two players that Toronto has signed through the 2018 season, JA Happ and Steve Pearce, are also under consideration to be moved before the deadline, one source says, but the team doesn’t seem as inclined to move Happ and Pearce as they do Liriano, Estrada, Smith and Howell.
The Blue Jays being open to moving Liriano, Estrada, Smith, Howell, Happ and Pearce doesn’t signal that the team has lost hope in the 2017 season – hardly at all.
The theme in Toronto is that they will look into trading players with one or two years left on their contracts, as listed above, but won’t trade players with multiple seasons of control remaining on their contracts.
Barring an offer that knocks their socks off, Toronto has no plans on moving players such as Josh Donaldson, Kevin Pillar, Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, among others, a source said.
If they traded a Stroman/Donaldson, which is extremely unlikely, “They’re giving up the next five years,” one rival told FanRag’s Jon Heyman.
However, one player not listed above that could get dealt is Jose Bautista. He fits the bill of players Toronto would like to trade – under contract through 2017, with a mutual option for 2018 worth $17 million that can be bought out for $500,000, as well as a $20 million option for 2019.
One rival executive believes Bautista will get dealt before the deadline, but others think an August waiver claim is more likely than a trade in July.
Toronto’s plan at this point is clear: If you are signed long-term, you are here to stay. If you are signed through 2017 or 2018, your time with the Blue Jays could be running out.