TORONTO—Typically when a contender adds to its big league roster before the trade deadline, it subtracts from its farm system to make it happen.
Thanks to their financial flexibility, the Blue Jays simultaneously helped themselves in the majors and minors by picking up prospects Reese McGuire and Harold Ramirez along with lefty Francisco Liriano from the Pirates.
Liriano joined the Toronto rotation—the Blue Jays assumed the $18 million he’s owed through 2017—while McGuire and Ramirez, both 21, joined Double-A New Hampshire.
“To get that caliber of prospect into our system, that wasn’t our focus at the deadline,” general manager Ross Atkins said. “It was an opportunity that presented itself.”
Drew Hutchison, a righthander who turns 26 on Aug. 22 and already has three years of big league service time, was the only asset surrendered by the Blue Jays in the deal. He made a couple of spot starts in Toronto but was otherwise mired at Triple-A Buffalo.
In McGuire, the Blue Jays picked up a catcher selected 14th overall in the 2013 draft whom they scouted heavily before settling on righthander Phil Bickford at No. 10. That familiarity was important because the scouting department and front office staff “felt incredible about the person and the defense,” and what he’s accomplished offensively at a very young age, according to Atkins.
McGuire also provides a catching prospect at the upper levels of the system, with 2014 first-rounder Max Pentecost still limited to DH at low Class A Lansing.
“The way we approach acquisitions is: Get the best player, and if it’s a tie, then we may pick in terms of depth and complementing pieces,” Atkins said. “With Reese McGuire . . . this guy is really talented. Let’s get him in the system.”
Ramirez, an outfielder from Colombia who in 2011 signed for $1.05 million, has split time between center and right field over five pro seasons. The Blue Jays intend to look at him as a center fielder.
• The Blue Jays promoted top shortstop prospect Richard Urena to Double-A after he recorded a .797 OPS in 97 games at high Class A Dunedin.
• Veteran catcher Erik Kratz joined Buffalo on a minor league deal.