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Inbox: Could Blue Jays swing a big trade?

Beat reporter Gregor Chisholm answers questions from fans
December 19, 2017

What do you see the Blue Jays doing with Josh Donaldson, and the team as a whole for the 2018 season? -- @hawkwiredDonaldson gets mentioned in trade rumors on a daily basis, but the reality is his situation has not changed since the end of the year. President Mark Shapiro

What do you see the Blue Jays doing with Josh Donaldson, and the team as a whole for the 2018 season?
-- @hawkwired

Donaldson gets mentioned in trade rumors on a daily basis, but the reality is his situation has not changed since the end of the year. President Mark Shapiro and general manager Ross Atkins are on record saying the goal is to improve for 2018, and it's hard to envision doing that by moving a potential MVP candidate. Teams continue to call and the Blue Jays continue to listen, but every viable report suggests Toronto is not inclined to move its franchise star.
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If a team like St. Louis gets desperate and makes an over-the-top offer, it has to be considered, but all signs point to Donaldson staying put. There is no indication the two sides held serious talks on a contract extension, but a lot of that work typically is done in January, which also matches up with Donaldson's arbitration case. Expect Donaldson to be with the Blue Jays on Opening Day, and whether that extends into late July depends entirely on Toronto's record.
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Do you think the Blue Jays have the assets to acquire J.T. Realmuto and Christian Yelich in a package? Both players come with team control for the next few years and would make a statement that the club still wants to compete.
-- Erick L., Ontario

Lots of questions about the Marlins this week, and understandably so. Realmuto and especially Yelich would be great fits for the Blue Jays, but the problem is that almost every team in the Majors could say the same thing. Miami's duo reportedly asked to be traded, but unlike the Giancarlo Stanton sweepstakes, the Marlins have quite a bit of leverage and can afford to wait this out.
One common trade scenario floated by Blue Jays fans is Yelich for Bo Bichette, Toronto's No. 2 prospect. People can argue back and forth as much as they want, but in all likelihood it's going to take a lot more than that to move the needle. Consider the recent report from Steve Phillips that Miami asked for both Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bichette in a deal for Marcell Ozuna. That was a clear non-starter and there's no way Guerrero would be offered up in the next round of talks, either. Toronto has enough assets to get a deal done, but considering the cost, it seems unlikely.
Should the Blue Jays package Bichette, Russell Martin, another top prospect and some lower prospects for Yelich and Realmuto?
-- @ErickL19

Fantasy trades make everything seem so easy, but the business side of operations needs to be considered as well. The Marlins will not have any appetite to add the $40 million remaining on Martin's contract and Toronto would have to eat most of the cash to get a deal done. That's not necessarily a make-or-break issue, but the cost has to be factored in, as does the value of prospect capital going the other way.
As mentioned above, Yelich and Realmuto will not come cheap. It would take a lot more than Bichette and moving other prominent prospects such as Anthony Alford, Nate Pearson, T.J. Zeuch, Danny Jansen and others would gut a system that is currently being rebuilt. Personally, I would look to build around the next young core, not take away from it. Yelich has five years of control, which works, but Realmuto has just three and that doesn't line up with Toronto's next wave of talent.

Would you trade Donaldson to get rid of Troy Tulowitzki and Martin and most, if not all, of their contracts?
-- @BlazeBrice

Absolutely not. The only way a team should move an MVP-caliber player in this type of deal is if it desperately needs to shed salary and fast. Toronto's payroll is not getting cut -- it's expected to be in the same range as last season -- and there is no reason to take pennies on the dollar just to create some up-front savings. Dealing Donaldson for prospects who align with Toronto's next core makes sense, but trading him to save money does not.
Martin and Tulowitzki will earn a combined $40 million next year and while that's problematic, neither player is blocking a prospect with more upside. Catcher Danny Jansen needs another year of development and the recently acquired Aledmys Diaz should have no issues finding at-bats on a team that deals with so many injuries. At this time next year, eating some money might be worth considering, but not right now. Also don't forget that Tulowitzki has a full no-trade clause, which further complicates matters.
What was the point in the Blue Jays talking to Carsten Sabathia? Everyone knew he was going back to the Yankees. We should focus on players who might actually come here.
-- David T., Hamilton, Ontario

The Blue Jays didn't expect to sign Sabathia, but there was no harm in talking. Fact is this is just one of many conversations the Blue Jays have with free agents and executives of other teams as part of the due-diligence process. The only difference here is that the news became public, while most behind-the-scenes dialogue never sees the light of day.
So what was the point? Well, there was an outside chance that the Yankees would look elsewhere to fill the final spot in their rotation. If that happened, then Sabathia would have been an intriguing fit. There was no downside here and if it helped drive up the price on the Yankees even just a little bit, from a Toronto perspective, it would have been worth it.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.