A sluggish MLB off-season only means one thing: Beyond absurd trade proposals. The off-season is the perfect time to run these wild ideas because every fan wants their wildest dream to come true, even if a trade or a signing seems impossible. This past weekend was no exception.
A few days ago, MLB.com reporter Anthony Castrovince published a story on blockbuster trade ideas for the American Thanksgiving weekend, which unfortunately included the Toronto Blue Jays. In this story, Castrovince proposed that the Jays should trade first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and starting pitcher Alek Manoah to the New York Mets for first baseman Pete Alonso and utility man Jeff McNeil. The rationale behind this trade is that both Guerrero Jr. and Manoah failed to live up to their expectations last season and a change of scenery could help them succeed, especially with Steve Cohen’s money in New York City.
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) November 27, 2023
The only problem with this trade is that it’s an incredibly lopsided trade that leans heavily toward the Mets’ favour. In this hypothetical trade, the Mets are getting great control over young talents with Guerrero Jr. and Manoah becoming free agents in 2026 and 2028 respectively. In contrast, Alonso will become a free agent in 2025, while McNeil has until 2026 with a 2027 club option. Those years already indicate that the Mets will come out with more value in this trade and the Jays won’t have much time to have success with Alonso and McNeil, unless the team extends long-term contracts to both players and they’re willing to stay in Toronto.
There’s no doubt that Alonso is a valuable player who has power. This is a selling point for the Mets since the Jays lacked significant power in the past season. Alonso hit more than 40 home runs except in the 2020 and 2021 seasons, and that power is extremely valuable to a team that needs a pop in 2024. Arguably, Guerrero Jr.’s WAR was only 1.0 compared to Alonso’s 2.8 in the 2023 season, according to FanGraphs.
However, Steamer projects Guerrero Jr’s projected WAR to be 4.1 in 2024 and that’s a full point higher than Alonso’s WAR projection which stands at 3.1. It’s hard to project how each player will perform in 2024 since many variables can impact performances. Still, it’s inevitable that Guerrero Jr.’s performance will see a positive regression sooner rather than later. From that standpoint, it doesn’t make sense for the Jays to trade away a 24-year-old player with more control for experienced Alonso, even if the value he brings will make an immediate impact.
Are the Mets looking to trade Pete Alonso? 🤔
— B/R Walk-Off (@BRWalkoff) November 22, 2023
Manoah’s case is much trickier since he comes out of this worst season in 2023 with a WAR of -0.4. That’s a significant decline from his 4.1 WAR in 2022, which surprised many baseball insiders and fans alike. Due to his massive underperformance, Steamer projects Manoha’s WAR in 2024 to be 0.9. While it’s not unreasonable to expect Manoah to exceed this projection given his past performances in 2021 and 2022, it could be a risky bet if he doesn’t fully bounce back in 2024.
Compared to Manoah’s tremendous risk and unknown, McNeil seems to be the exact opposite at this point. FanGraphs reveals that McNeil’s batting average didn’t drop below .251 from 2018 to 2023 and he has consistently hit between 25 to 31 home runs for all six seasons which offers some consistent offence in the Jays’ lineup if the team decides to move forward with the aforementioned trade. Furthermore, McNeil rarely strikes out with his highest K% being 13.6% in 2021. It also helps that McNeil’s projected batting average in 2024 is at 0.288, and WAR is at 2.5. This is the type of consistency that could help the Jays to consider a trade with the Mets.
Alonso and McNeil could be the missing pieces the Jays need to take things to the next level, based on the Steamer projections for next season, but there’s also a possibility that both players don’t live up to their projections. The ultimate risk in trading for these two players from the Mets is that they are older than Guerrero Jr. and Manoah. In other words, there is more risk of negative regression even if the projections expect Alonso and McNeil to produce better WARs in 2024 than Guerrero Jr. and Manoah combined.
Another reason why the Guerrero Jr. and Manoah trade is unlikely this offseason is because the Jays’ front office indicated their reluctance to trade high-end, young controllable talents in the past few years. The Jays have shown that they are willing to make trades at times, but it’s well-known that the Jays solidified Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette as their core pieces for this particular contention window. Hence, there’s little to no motivation for the Jays to trade away Guerrero Jr., especially when he is only 24 years old.
The #BlueJays are reportedly entertaining the idea of potentially trading Alek Manoah this winter.
My take on why there is a lot of risk associated with this potential move (and why it shouldn’t be forced).@thejaysnation https://t.co/VGkAefeJQH
— Tyson Shushkewich (@Tyson_MLB) November 20, 2023
As of this offseason, the Jays’ front office clarified that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette are off-limits even if no players are truly non-tradeable at the right price. Trading one of these young players would send mixed messages about the Jays’ contention status, and that’s not the risk the front office would be willing to take. Unlike Guerrero Jr. and Bichette, Manoah has emerged in many potential trade discussions which indicates that he is not completely off-limits. But if the front office were to trade him, the return would be lower due to Manoah’s worse performance in 2023.
It’s not a secret that Guerrero Jr. and Manoah haven’t lived up to their potential last season. Given this context, the Jays don’t stand to get much of a return if they were to trade both players to different teams. Ultimately, trading these young players wouldn’t be in the Jays’ best interest because Guerrero Jr. and Manoah’s possible rebound will be much more worthwhile in the end.
The Jays are not in the business of trading their talented young players this offseason. Trading away their future isn’t going to serve them in their contention even though there’s no guarantee for magnificent bouncebacks from the young players. In conclusion, it’s still much better for the Jays to bet on Guerrero Jr. and Manoah to outperform their worse years to recover from their slumps.
So, my sincere apologies, New York Mets fans. There’s no way the Jays will trade Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Alek Manoah to play at Citi Field. The Jays still believe in Guerrero Jr. and Manoah’s potential, and Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil just won’t be able to replace their full value in the long run.
ARTICLE PRESENTED BY BETANO