On a pace to lose more than 100 games this season, it is inevitable that the Toronto Blue Jays begin moving veteran players for young and emerging prospects with future value.
The question – or worry – that most fans have centres on what kind of players could possibly be returned for these established guys who we know and who have provided some of the few moments worth our enthusiasm this season. For as much as we have been excited about the emergence of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., the idea of what this team looks like without the contributions of Marcus Stroman, Ken Giles or Justin Smoak seems pretty grim.
Moreover, Blue Jays fans aren’t particularly accustomed to many trades in which a veteran is traded for a prospect. A look back through the historical transactions shows a franchise that has mostly added veterans for young players, or at least attempted to trade present value for present value.
There have been a few notable instances of trading for the future, though. Here are a few of those deals, for better and for worse.
July 6, 1986 – Blue Jays trade Doyle Alexander to the Atlanta Braves for Duane Ward
This might be the best return the Jays have ever received in this sort of deal. Alexander had been a key rotation piece in their successful pursuit of the 1985 AL East title, famously winning the pennant-clinching game and being held aloft by his teammates afterward. But he scuffled somewhat the following season, and became expendable to a Blue Jays team that took a step backward in 1986.
In Ward, the Blue Jays received an electric arm that had not yet been harnessed. In his six-season peak as a reliever from 1988 through the two championships in 1992 and 1993, Ward posted a 2.98 ERA with 121 saves and 657 strikeouts in 634.1 innings. He was a workhorse, pitching more than 100 innings in five of those seasons, an almost inconceivable feat in the modern-baseball context.
In one of those curiosities that can only happen in baseball, Alexander was subsequently traded in mid-1987 to the Detroit Tigers, where he went 11-0 and played a big role in helping to usher the Blue Jays into their most crushing collapse in franchise history. The Braves’ return? Future Hall of Famer John Smoltz.
September 22, 1987 – Blue Jays trade Mike Sharperson to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Juan Guzman
Just as the Jays were about to implode in that fateful 1987 season, they sent the 25-year-old Sharperson packing, despite the fact that he had been groomed to replace franchise stalwart Damaso Garcia. But after 105 plate appearances through May, Sharperson found himself supplanted by Nelson Liriano and Manuel Lee, as well as veteran Garth Iorg.
Seemingly without further need for his services, the Jays sent him to the Dodgers in return for the 20-year-old Dominican Hurler who would become essential to their championship teams. Pitching eight seasons with the Blue Jays, Guzman ranks fourth all-time in franchise history for strikeouts.
Sharperson went on to become a utility player for the Dodgers over the ensuing seven seasons, and even managed to be named to the 1992 NL All-Star team. As baseball fate would have it, the 1992 summer classic was also the only all-star appearance for Guzman.
July 28, 1995 – Blue Jays trade David Cone to the New York Yankees for Mike Gordon, Jason Jarvis and Marty Janzen
In the first significant selloff following the glory years, the Jays moved Cone, who they had reacquired at the beginning of the season from Kansas City. With the team headed toward a 56-win season, it moved Cone to the Yankees, where he would become a legend as a centrepiece of their championship rotations in the coming seasons.
In return, the Blue Jays received Gordon and Jarvis, two pitchers who never advanced beyond double-A, and Janzen, who would post a 6.39 ERA over two uneventful seasons bouncing between the rotation and the pen.
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July 31, 1997 – Blue Jays trade Paul Spoljaric and Mike Timlin to the Seattle Mariners for Jose Cruz Jr.
Sending two veteran pitchers out in exchange for one rookie hitter might seem like overkill in theory, but for a team that had gone from the heights to the doldrums in a few short years, the second-generation MLBer Cruz Jr. added a spark of intrigue to the team’s future.
Somewhat underappreciated in his time with the Jays, the switch-hitting outfielder finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting that season and would go on to post a .250/.331/.462 slash line in six seasons with Toronto, hitting 122 homers and stealing 85 bases along the way.
The Blue Jays languished over his time, and Cruz Jr. would always struggle to realize his full potential, eventually be replaced by Vernon Wells in centre field. He did manage the remarkable feat of hitting 34 homers and stealing 32 bags in 2001. For the price of a couple of relievers, and given the history of these trades, it was a pretty decent return over the long-term.
Full credit to orginal post, courtesy of: https://www.sportsnet.ca/baseball/mlb/looking-notable-veteran-prospect-deals-blue-jays-history/