The Jays’ farm system has taken a hit, but there’s still enough depth to deal
With a front office led by a president and general manager focused on player development, one question has surrounded the Blue Jays farm system in recent years.
When will they starting trading from their wealth of prospects?
The answer to that question, it turned out, is now.
On Wednesday, they dealt four prospects to Oakland for third baseman Matt Chapman: right-handed pitcher Gunnar Hoglund, infielder Kevin Smith and left-handers Zach Logue and Kirby Snead. At last year’s trade deadline, they parted with two top prospects — infielder Austin Martin and right-hander Simeon Woods Richardson — to add right-hander José Berríos from Minnesota. And the Jays are reportedly still trying to pry all-star infielder José Ramírez away from the Cleveland Guardians, according to Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic, for a package that’s sure to include more young talent.
Hoglund — who had been Toronto’s No. 4-ranked prospect, according to MLB Pipeline — was likely the centrepiece of Wednesday’s deal from Oakland’s side. Drafted 19th overall last year, the right-hander is recovering from Tommy John surgery last May and said recently that he’s been throwing for four months. Smith, meanwhile, is coming off a solid year and has upside. Logue was ranked 27th in the Jays system, and Snead saw a bit of time with the Jays last year, posting a 2.35 ERA in 7 2/3 innings.
While the Jays’ pool of prospects has taken a significant hit, with or without a Ramírez deal, they’re still deep and have several cards to play if they choose.
Outside of the top two in the system — 22-year-old catcher Gabriel Moreno and 20-year-old infielder Orelvis Martinez — no one is considered untouchable.
Infielders Jordan Groshans (ranked third), Otto Lopez (fifth), Leo Jimenez (11th) and Samad Taylor (17th) are among the names that could help the Jays land another left-handed hitter, which has been one of their off-season targets.
One big advantage for the Jays is their young core at the big-league level, led by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette. They can afford to wait for more prospects to develop because there isn’t the need for significant roster turnover in the near future.
Atkins told reporters in Florida that he feels like the top of the Jays’ system is still deep enough in players with the potential to have an impact at the big-league level in the short and long term. He’s also confident that the Jays’ scouting department can continue to stock that prospect pool even if more young players are traded away.
“We’re just better and better at helping players improve … the ability to find opportunities with players to help them close gaps,” Atkins said. “The entire industry is better at it; (we) feel like we’re more equipped to do it as well, which is certainly a weapon we’ve seen just from this year’s draft class. The impact player development performance has had on them has been remarkable.”