Let's be clear from the outset: there have been next to no reputable rumours indicating that the Blue Jays are even remotely interested in Matt Shoemaker. With that said it may be time to internally kick the tires around on a potential trade candidate in Mr. Shoemaker.
Many of you probably insist that Mr. Shoemaker isn't having that great of a year in 2016. His career even isn't something you're writing home to your grandmother about. He's owns a 4.08 ERA, you say. He's a roller coaster, you cry. Here me out.
Matt Shoemaker isn't the type of upgrade that's going to look like a David Price upgrade, but he's still a very serviceable option to close out this season to make a run at a ship. On the year, Shoemaker does own that 4.08 ERA but he also has a 3.36 FIP, which suggests he may be undervalued by a franchise that is perpetually in confusion of their inventory and their standing in the league. In his last 11 starts since increasing the usage of his splitter too, Shoemaker owns a 2.37 ERA, pointing to a theory that he may have turned a palpable corner going forward.
His 2.4 WAR would rank second only to Aaron Sanchez—who he may have to replace if we keep talking about moving him to the bullpen—in the Blue Jays' rotation with other peripherals such as BABIP, strikeout rate and walk rate trending in the direction of a good underrated option on the trade market.
Another benefit to making this kind of move is that Shoemaker is controllable beyond this season at a respectable price. He will be entering his first year of arbitration eligibility and isn't scheduled to become a free agent until the 2021 season. This may make the gamble a little harder to create but still one that the Jays would benefit from taking part in given the uncertainty of the rotation in the future.
If this were last year acquiring someone of Shoemaker's acumen would cost considerably less than it would right now. This year, with less starters on the market, the asking price might be a tad higher, although not considerably.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim do have the worst farm system in the entire major leagues with a major league team that's middling at best. Thus, the idea of acquiring a top-10 prospect from Toronto this year would likely vault that player into the upper echelons of the Angels' system immediately.
That said, the Jays need to take heed of giving away prospects in the aggregate in the next two weeks. When it comes to trading prospects in an already depleted system, it's important that you evaluate yourself critically to ensure you have the right information about the product you're giving away. A good example of this came last season when then-GM Alex Anthopoulos traded away then-top prospect Daniel Norris for David Price. While no one is suggesting the Jays fleeced the Tigers in that trade—it's way too early for that determination—you could certainly make the argument that Anthopoulos saw flaws in Norris and dealt away a prospect that the Blue Jays internally had less value for than the market, or the Tigers did. The new front office, led by Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro, needs to do the same thing.
One name you could posit for this experiment would be Dalton Pompey. Multiple times has Pompey been branded with the top prospect tag but has floundered in his ability to take the next step in a big league uniform. If he still has value as a former top prospect on the trade market, it could be time to make sure you are actually able to get something for the soon-to-be 24 year-old. Then again, maybe the internal discussions within the Blue Jays' front office is that they believe Pompey has indeed turned a corner and is ready to become one of the replacements for Michael Saunders and Jose Bautista's departure next season. I don't know, I'm not privy to that conversation.
But he is the type that will allow the Blue Jays to make an upgrade, if they're going to make one at all, in the next two weeks.In fact, a move of this nature may need another mid-level prospect in order to actually seem worth it to the Angels for a player with as much left under his contract as Shoemaker has. Blue Jays' management needs to find someone the Angels—or any team for that matter—values in the Jays' farm system that they aren't so high on.
Ultimately this arm-chair GM deal is going to come down to whether the Angels want to deal Shoemaker in the first place—they don't seem to understand that they aren't a playoff team. If they do, the Jays should be in on bringing his services north of the border if the price is right. He could represent a significant upgrade in the Jays' rotation as an underrated option on the trading market that the Jays' front office may be able to exploit.
The only question is whether that could becomes something more concrete.