After watching Bo Bichette appear to suffer a potentially significant knee injury on Monday night, the Toronto Blue Jays wasted no time landing another shortstop ahead of the 2023 trade deadline. The Jays and St. Louis Cardinals have agreed to a deal sending veteran Paul DeJong headed north of the border. 24-year-old Minor League reliever Matt Svanson is the return for the Cards.
It’s the second time in a week that these teams have gotten together, both of which came as the direct result of an injury to a key member of Toronto’s roster. The Blue Jays landed St. Louis closer Jordan Hicks last week just a day after their own All-Star stopper, Jordan Romano, was placed on the IL with back inflammation.
The team has still yet to release an update on Bichette’s status, but given the nature of the injury — he pulled up lame after appearing to tweak something while rounding first base — it’s safe to say Toronto is fearing the worst, or at least some sort of extended absence. DeJong obviously isn’t in Bichette’s class as a player, but the 30-year-old remains a very solid defender at the 6 and comes with at least a bit of pop in his bat. The righty has a .710 OPS (93 OPS+) with 13 homers in 81 games this season.
Without Bichette, Toronto didn’t really have a natural shortstop on the roster — Santiago Espinal is stretched at the position and doesn’t have DeJong’s upside at the plate — all but forcing them to hit the trade market. Tim Anderson also loomed as an option, but he’s a lesser defender who’s struggled mightily with the bat this season. Toronto enters play on Tuesday two up in the loss column on the division rival Boston Red Sox for the third and final AL Wild Card spot.
A 13th-round pick out of Lehigh in the 2021 MLB Draft, Svanson is strictly a relief prospect, but he’s put up eye-popping numbers in A-ball this year and could move quickly in the Cardinals’ system. Given DeJong’s limited ceiling and the fact that he’s set to enter free agency this winter, a potential back-end reliever is a solid get for John Mozeliak.