Eugenio Suarez's name has come up in recent trade rumors. That alone is pretty shocking, but when you find out the team who has been checking in on Suarez is the Toronto Blue Jays, that is REALLY shocking. Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith writes that the Blue Jays have expressed interest in Geno. Why on Earth would the Blue Jays, who have made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, target Eugenio Suarez?
I am not saying that Eugenio Suarez is a bad player. He was a 2.2 WAR player in 2023, hit 22 Home Runs, and played an exceptional third base. In my opinion, he should have been a finalist for the Gold Glove Award. He is a great clubhouse guy and a team leader. He shows up ready to play every day, as he played in every game in 2023. All 162. He has an above-average walk rate (10.1%) and actually led the American League in sacrifice flies with 11. Geno is a fan favorite in Seattle, so why would the Mariners even entertain moving on from him?
The glaring issue with him is the strikeouts. He led the American League in that category in back-to-back seasons, striking out 30.8% of the time in 2023 alone. At the GM meetings earlier this week, Mariners President of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto said he wants the offense to be more "Contact" based. They already declined to offer former Mariners OF Teoscar Hernandez a Qualifying Offer. The trio of Geno, Teo, and Julio Rodriguez struck out a whopping 600 times. The Mariners as a team were 2nd in all of baseball in strikeouts.
So, why would the Blue Jays want Geno?
The Blue Jays starting third baseman over the past 2 seasons has been Matt Chapman. Chapman was given a Qualifying Offer by the Jays, but should he choose to not sign it, he becomes a free agent. While the Blue Jays are likely to try to bring him back, they will need to replace him should he choose to go elsewhere. Geno is good defensively, but nowhere near the level of Chapman. Many view Chappy as the best defensive player in baseball. But he and Geno are pretty similar offensively.
Chapman carries a 108 OPS+, while Geno had an OPS+ of 101. But if Geno were to play his home games at the Rogers Centre, a lot of those warning track fly balls that Geno hit would have left the yard. Like I said above, Geno is a hard worker and shows up ready to play every day. He is entering the final year of his contract, Geno is due $11,000,000 in 2024, and has a Club option of $15,000,000 in 2025. That is a lot cheaper than the 2023 Qualifying Offer of $20.3M.
Blue Jays get Geno, send INF Cavan Biggio and RHP Nate Pearson
The Blue Jays are not likely to part with a top prospect for Geno. Maybe the Mariners would take a shot on Cavan Biggio, who can play second base. He would be a free agent in 2026. Biggio, the son of Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, is an on-base type guy. He has some pop, and he hit .235/.340/.370 with an OPS+ of 98. He is not an everyday player for the Blue Jays, but he is a solid bench bat for them. He can play anywhere in the infield and even played some corner outfield for the Jays in 2023.
Another player I value from the Blue Jays is RHP Nate Pearson. Pearson was once a top prospect but just has not panned out for the Jays. He averages 97.9 MPH for his fastball and can top 100 MPH. He is a fastball/Slider/Curveball combo pitcher, He has been wild with the walks in his short career, averaging 5.1 walks per 9 innings. Imagine what the Mariners pitching lab can do with him.
I think Blue Jays fans would view this as an overpay, and maybe it is. The free agent market for third base is a shallow one. Besides Matt Chapman and Jeimer Candelario, there is not much else out there who can be as good or better than Chapman. Mariners fans may view this as too light of a return, but they need to remember that this is for Eugenio Suarez, not Julio Rodriguez. Both of these players can contribute for the Mariners.
Who would replace Geno in Seattle?
Right now, the only players on the roster who would take over for Geno are a combo of Josh Rojas, Dylan Moore, and Sam Haggerty. Geno leaving would create a Mariners 2nd base-type hole in the lineup. Biggio would be there as well, should the trade I proposed come to fruition. Jeimer Candaeario is a potential free agent pickup, as well as Matt Chapman. The Mariners also have some young infield prospects on the way, but they will not be ready for the 2024 season. Cole Young, Colt Emerson, and Tai Peete are all a few years away.
I am not for or against trading Suarez. I am for the Mariners getting more contact in their lineup, and limiting strikeouts. Geno is not the only player who strikes out too much, though. Julio Rodriguez struck out 175 times, Cal Raleigh struck out 158 times, and Jarred Kelenic struck out 132 times in just 105 games. If the Mariners are indeed shopping Suarez, I am sure more teams than just the Blue Jays will emerge interested. As always, Go Mariners!