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Outfielders Blue Jays could consider trading for

Although the Toronto Blue Jays have made their desire for more starting pitching known, it’s clear that the outfield is another place that requires external upgrades. Free agency may be a source the club draws on, but the trade market could be equally fruitful.

There are quite a few teams around the league with outfield surpluses and the Blue Jays have only Randal Grichuk and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. pencilled into their outfield now — plus the team still hasn’t given up on the idea of Gurriel Jr. as an infielder. That leaves at least one starting spot, maybe two if there was a timeshare that involved DH at-bats.

Here are some of the guys they could look at to fill their vacancies:

The Stabilizer: Stephen Piscotty

The Oakland Athletics are always open for business. (Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)

Age: 28
Hits: Right
Plays: Right Field
2019 stats: .249/.309/.412 line with 13 home runs and a 0.6 WAR in 393 PA

Contract Status: $28.5 million through 2023 with a $15 million club option for 2024 ($1 million buyout)

How it works: Piscotty is coming off a relatively poor season, but he has an appealing contract, he’s at an age where he’s unlikely to decline, and his career wRC+ is a sturdy 112. He’s not a star by any means, but he’s a set-it-and-forget-it right-fielder who would bring some certainty to a group that isn’t overflowing with it.

The veteran’s fit isn’t 100 per cent ideal because the Blue Jays could use a left-handed bat, and he would force one of Grichuk or Gurriel Jr. to play more centre field than the club probably bargained for, but a Piscotty at the height of his powers could be worth it. The Oakland Athletics could get by with the trio of Chad Pinder, Ramon Laureano, and Mark Canha and clear a little salary by moving on from Piscotty. Normally contenders aren’t looking to ship reliable veterans out of town, but Oakland will trade anyone at any time.

The Pure Centre-Fielder: Manuel Margot

Manuel Margot is a proven plus centre-fielder. (Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

Age: 25
Hits: Right
Plays: Centre Field
2019 stats: .234/.304/.387 line with 12 home runs and a 1.6 WAR in 441 PA

Contract Status: Arbitration-eligible in 2021

How it works: If Grichuk and Gurriel Jr. remain entrenched in their corners then the Blue Jays’ best bet could be to go for someone whose sole focus is centre field. While Margot is far from a star, he’s a plus defender who won’t embarrass himself at the bottom of a lineup. Essentially he’d give the Blue Jays an approximation of what Kevin Pillar did during their playoff years.

Margot came to the Padres with a lot of hype, but he’s failed to become an impact player for them, leading them to dangle him in trade talks at the deadline. If they still feel like he’s not a part of their future, he’s a high-floor option for a team like the Blue Jays. Given his athleticism and relative youth, there’s also a chance a change of scenery could take his game up a notch.

The Statcast Beast: Jake Cave

Jake Cave wields a powerful left-handed bat and has positional versatility. (Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

Age: 26
Hits: Left
Plays: All three outfield positions
2019 stats: .258/.351/.455 line with 8 home runs and a 0.9 WAR in 228 PA

Contract Status: Arbitration-eligible in 2022

How it works: Cave can do a lot of the things the Blue Jays are looking for in an outfield target. Namely he brings positional versatility and left-handed power. Often filling in for an injured Byron Buxton, Cave has a .262./329/.466 line over the last two years in 537 trips to the plate — good for 2.3 WAR. Depending on the fielding metric he’s generally graded out as an approximately average fielder as well.

The biggest question about his production is the massive strikeout rate he’s posted at the highest level (32.2 percent) and the juicy .361 BABIP that’s floated his numbers. However, Cave crushes the ball when he makes contact. His average exit velocity (89.3 mph) is well above the MLB average (87.5) and more importantly his barrel rate (13.7 percent) more than doubles the league standard (6.3). Combine that with well-above-average Sprint Speed (66th percentile) and you’ve got a guy who’s going to run the high BABIPs he needs to make his offensive profile work.

Because Buxton, Eddie Rosario, and Max Kepler aren’t going anywhere, the Twins don’t look like they’ll be able to offer Cave a starting spot for the foreseeable future. While he’s a valuable reserve, he’s a bench player at this point — which could make him expendable in their eyes.

The Reliable Fourth Outfielder: Ben Gamel

Ben Gamel would bring some all-around competence to the Blue Jays' roster. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Age: 27
Hits: Left
Plays: All three outfield positions
2019 stats: .248/.337/.373 line with 7 home runs and a 0.9 WAR in 356 PA

Contract Status: Arbitration-eligible in 2021

How it works: This wouldn’t be a move to find a future starter, but rather to lock in a bench spot with a player who brings an established track record of competence. Gamel is a below-average but serviceable, hitter, a good fielder, and plus base runner. He also plays all three outfield positions.

Gamel’s ceiling isn’t particularly high, but he’s capable of doing a better-than-replacement-level job — something guys like Derek Fisher, Billy McKinney, Anthony Alford and Jonathan Davis haven’t proven. Depending on what happens with those players (Fisher and Alford being especially intriguing as they’ll be out of options in 2020) there may be a place for a veteran like Gamel — who is hardly a must-have for the Milwaukee Brewers thanks to the presence of Christian Yelich, Ryan Braun, and Lorenzo Cain on the roster plus the emergence of Trent Grisham (NL wild-card disaster aside).

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