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SIMMONS: Jays lose by trading Teoscar but overall verdict still awaits

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Sunflower seeds head west. Just like that big giant smile. And so does the man in the middle of all the Blue Jays nonsense, the leader of frolic and fun in the game.

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Teoscar Hernandez and his seed thrower were traded by the Blue Jays on Wednesday in what looks on paper like a one-sided deal in favor of the Seattle Mariners. A deal that cannot necessarily be evaluated today. There must be another element – or other elements to come during this Blue Jays winter.

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You don’t trade a Silver Slugger, a cleanup hitter, a two-homer guy from the brief postseason in exchange for a swing-and-miss reliever, as much as the Blue Jays need swing-and-miss relievers. miss.

You’re making this deal because it’s the start of turning a slate that wasn’t good enough to be the candidate you wanted it to be. You’re making this deal, perhaps, because you want your team to be more serious, less about celebrations and more about business. And you’re doing this deal because it frees up money, not just for today, but for the future, and it provides Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins with the kind of financial means to take the Blue Jays to where they need it.

It couldn’t have been an easy trade for Atkins, the general manager, who brought Hernandez to Toronto in perhaps the best trade he’s made in his time with the Jays.

GMs tend to fall in love with their players, especially those they acquire, and even more so those they steal in one-way trades. There must have been some fondness for Hernandez and you could hear it Wednesday in Atkins’ voice as he hinted at the possibility of re-signing Teoscar as a free agent in 2024.

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He originally brought Hernandez to Toronto in a trade that sent veteran pitcher, Francisco Liriano, to the Astros. It was a profession of yesterday and today. Except now, after Hernandez spent more than five seasons as a Blue Jay, it was about to start the offseason in a big way: the Jays traded one of their uniquely named players.

They have Vladdy and Bo. And now their friend, their co-contributor, Teoscar, is gone.

In Toronto, against all odds, he became a star. A Silver Slugger award winner. A game-changer with the bat and in his Toronto debut an unfortunate game-changer with the glove. But Hernandez grew into himself and his game and became a solid big league outfielder on a day-to-day basis. He hit two home runs in the now historically blown wildcard game against the Mariners, who he will now play for. He’s hit home this season about as often as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has. He homered at a rate of over 40 during the shortened 2020 COVID season. Last summer, he hit doubles more often than Guerrero. And he’s been in almost everything the Jays have done offensively — and so much partying at the everyday party that’s made it either great or too full of itself, depending on your personal interpretation.

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Maybe the Jays should turn the volume down a bit in the dugout. Maybe they want to be more commercial and less festive. But right now, there’s a giant hole to fill in right field. Hernandez led the Jays in slugging, was just a few points away from leading them in OPS.

You don’t move a player of that quality, a central figure in your batting order, and improve your roster daily. And the idea floated by Atkins on Wednesday that the Jays have enough in-house outfielders to replace the recently released Hernandez and Raimel Tapia, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Bradley Zimmer is laughable, even if he said it with a straight face.

The Jays have a starting outfielder in George Springer, when healthy. They have another in Lourdes Gurriel Jr., when healthy. After that, health aside, there’s not much to believe.

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Which, of course, means there are more moves to come. There must be. The Jays now have Erik Swanson, a hard-throwing relief pitcher with a small sample of big-league success. This should help their enclosure. But the problem of believing that so many relief pitchers are day to day, season to season, month to month.

Hernandez is a proven commodity. At 29, Swanson has had a big major league season. It is not equal. But as a longtime GM told me years ago, never worry about what you’re trading. Worry about what your team will look like after the deal closes.

Or, in this case, once deals are done and free agent signings are complete.

The Jays still need help with their starting rotation and help in the bullpen. Now they need at least one starting outfielder and maybe two, and hopefully one of them is a left-handed hitter of some significance.

There is plenty to do here. The Jays paid a heavy price to add bullpen play by eliminating a popular Toronto player with all sorts of personalities. Today they lost that deal. Whatever happens tomorrow, the answer may well be the opposite.

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