The trade of Steve Pearce to Boston in June signaled the waving of a proverbial white flag on the 2018 season. Over the next few weeks, the front office traded away several players - primarily veterans on expiring contracts - for minor league players they hope will be a part of the team’s future core. Most of those players significantly contributed to their new teams and received an opportunity to play in the postseason, but there were a couple who were not able to accomplish what they were acquired to do. With several of these new acquisitions on display during Spring Training, I thought it would be worthwhile to conclude my “Where Are They Now” series by taking a look at how all the players who were traded away performed through the end of the season.
The trade of Josh Donaldson was very controversial at the time considering he was suffering setbacks right up until the time he was traded, then he was placed back on the injured list immediately after the trade. One he was activated, Josh Donaldson looked like the Josh Donaldson Cleveland was hoping for. In 16 games (60 plate appearances), Donaldson hit .280/.400/.520 with 3 homers. He walked as many times as he struck out (10).
However, Donaldson was acquired primarily for the playoffs as Cleveland had the division title secured fairly early on, and he failed to deliver. Donaldson started all 3 ALDS games, collecting only one hit and one walk in 12 plate appearances. He also had four strikeouts and made a crucial error airmailing a throw. In fairness, his teammates (save for Francisco Lindor) couldn’t squeeze any hits out either, but it’s safe to say that he was not a significant contributor to his team’s postseason success.
A week later than initially scheduled, Donaldson made his very late spring debut with the Braves on Friday night. He had a pop out and a walk before being subbed out. Donaldson said he is feeling “very confident”. He was also apparently working on a new way to run:
#Braves have pushed back Josh Donaldson's scheduled debut from Friday. Said he feels great, but they want him to work more on form running he's been doing, designed to improve stride & land with better mechanics, all to reduce stress on calves. Sounds like Sunday could be debut— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) February 28, 2019
Julian Merryweather, the pitcher who the Jays received for Josh Donaldson, is still recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Forrest Wall, Bo Bichette’s childhood best friend and one of three players received in a trade from the Rockies, has played in eight Spring games so for the Blue Jays. Seunghwan Oh, the player who he was traded for, was rumored this offseason to be homesick and seeking an early return to Korea. However, it appears as if Oh will remain in the US and play for the Rockies in 2019.
After he was traded, Oh put up some fairly shiny numbers with the Rockies. He pitched in 25 games, accumulating a 2.53 ERA (3.86 FIP) and had a 10.13 K/9. Batters hit .626 against him, and were only able to score runs in three of his outings, including one time when he gave up 2 homers in one inning to the Giants.
Oh pitched in three postseason games. His first appearance was in the wild card game against the Cubs, where he pitched 1.2 scoreless extra innings to keep the tie at 1-1. He also pitched in Game 2 of the NLDS against the Brewers. He came into the game in the 8th inning with the Rockies down a run, and gave up two hits, a walk and a run and left the bases loaded while only getting one out. Oh also pitched a scoreless inning in Game 7 of the NLDS, when the Rockies were already down by four runs.
The John Axford trade was a bit of a surprising one. His season wasn’t outstanding enough that he was an obvious candidate to go, but by the end of the day on July 31st, he was a Los Angeles Dodger. The Dodgers made it all the way to the World Series, but Axford pitched exactly zero innings in the playoffs. In fact, he pitched only 3.2 innings in total for Los Angeles.
His first outing on August 4th was nothing short of a disaster. He gave up three hits, two walks, hit a batter and was charged with six earned runs while only recording one out in a 14-0 loss to the Astros. Axford then pitched three scoreless innings before landing on the IL on August 14th with a right fibula fracture after being hit in the leg with a comebacker.
Axford was re-activated on September 17th, and gave up one hit to one batter in his first appearance. His final outing in LA was coincidentally during one the of the two Dodgers games I went to last year. It was not the best outing for Axford, but his defense let him down. There was a close play at first and an error by Justin Turner. Axford was pulled after allowing two earned runs and two on before recording an out.
Axford is currently a Toronto Blue Jay again, albeit on a minor league deal. The player who the Jays received for him, Corey Copping has pitched in four innings during Spring Training.
Like John Axford, Aaron Loup’s time with the Phillies was short lived. The first batter he faced as a Philly, he hit. He made four appearances totaling 2.0 innings pitched, giving up two earned runs. He hit the injured list with a left forearm strain on August 16th, and was reactivated a month later. In the final two weeks, he pitched 2.0 innings in five appearances allowing only one hit, with one strikeout and, with no walks. The Phillies did not make the postseason, and Aaron Loup is now teammates with Manny Machado in San Diego on a one year, $1.4M deal with a team option for 2020.
The pitcher the Blue Jays received for Aaron Loup, Jacob Waguespack, was added to the 40-man roster in the offseason. He has also pitched in four games for the Blue Jays this Spring.
The Grandyman brought Veteran Presents (TM) and the brightest of smiles to the Blue Jays in 2018. Once the front office determined they were out of it, he needed to be traded to open up playing time for some of the Jays’ young outfielders, primarily Billy McKinney. Granderson was traded to the Brewers, and he did very well for them. He put up a 135 wRC+ in 54 plate appearances, hitting .220/.407/.439 (.846 OPS) with two homers.
Granderson was primarily a pinch hitter in the postseason. In seven plate appearances, he only had one hit; a double (and a RBI) in Game 5 of the NLCS versus the Dodgers with two outs. You may recall, he also chipped tooth sliding into second. Granderson signed a minor league deal with the Miami Marlins, and seems likely to make the major league roster.
After being named an All Star for the first time, and earning the honor of being the only player to represent the Jays at the All Star Game, JA Happ was traded to the Evil Empire for Billy McKinney and Brandon Drury. Happ made 11 regular season starts for the Yankees, pitching 63.2 innings total. He was 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA and 4.21 FIP. Batters had a .676 OPS against him, and he also served up the first homer to Kendrys Morales’ during in his epic home run streak.
Happ started Game 1 of the ALDS against the Red Sox in Boston (a team he has often dominated), and it went terribly. He was removed in the top of the 3rd inning after only recording six outs. He gave up four hits, a walk to Steve Pearce and five earned runs in total, including a monster 3-run homer to JD Martinez.
Happ re-signed with the Yankees in the offseason, and will likely have many opportunities to redeem his performance in the playoffs again this year.
Roberto Osuna was the lone player traded by the Blue Jays in 2018 who had more than two years of control left, for obvious reasons.
The Astros needed a shoutout closer, and that’s exactly what Osuna did for them. He pitched one out shy of 23 innings in 23 games and accumulated 12 saves. Osuna gave up only five earned runs during that stretch, along with three walks and 19 strikeouts. This adds up to an impressive 1.99 ERA/2.72 FIP.
Osuna also pitched in the postseason, making four appearances total. He closed out both Game 1 and Game 2 of the ALDS. He also pitched in Game 3 of the ALCS against Boston, which a rather memorable inning. Osuna allowed three hits, hit two batters, and gave up five earned runs, including a monster grand slam to Mookie Betts. He also pitched three scoreless innings at the end of Game 5 as the Astros’ playoff run ended with a whimper.
Steve Pearce was the first player to be shipped off during the Blue Jays’ 2018 season. He was traded to the Boston Red Sox for minor leaguer Santiago Espinal, and...oh. He became the World Series MVP.
Pearce was excellent for the Red Sox in the regular season as well. He hit 279/.394/.507 (.901 OPS) in 50 games (165 plate appearances). He also walked 22 times, and hit seven homers. Splitting time at 1st base with Mitch Moreland, he also put up a 0.6 UZR.
In the postseason, he accumulated another 47 plate appearances in 13 games. He walked nine times and hit four homers. His slash line for the postseason was .289/.426/.658, good for a 1.083 OPS. Pearce signed a one year, $6.25M contract with the Red Sox back in November, so the Jays will see their fair share of him this season.
2019 will be most assuredly another year of flipping veterans on expiring contracts for young players, and if the bounce-back gambles by the front office pay off, this list will be even more extensive after this year. A farm system that is already said to be in the top 5 of baseball seems set to grow even stronger as more players set to be part of the next competitive wave arrive. While it’s tough to watch players fans grow fond of depart and contribute to the success of other teams, the future for the Blue Jays seems awfully bright.