Wouldn’t it be nice if the Blue Jays’ return to Toronto was accentuated by a big pre-trade deadline splash?
Major League Baseball’s trade deadline is on Friday at 4 p.m. ET, just three hours before the team hosts the Kansas City Royals for their first game at Rogers Centre in nearly two years.
The Blue Jays are 10.5 games back of the Boston Red Sox for the American League East, so it’s safe to say that unless they go ahead and win their next three games, they’re probably out of that race. But they’re very much so still alive in the wild-card race, as they’re four-and-a-half back of the Oakland A’s for the fifth and final playoff spot in the AL.
As I said yesterday, I don’t think the Blue Jays are in a spot to go all-in and acquire a bunch of rentals for a big World Series push. Instead, they’re best off looking for deals that can not only help them make a playoff push this year, but also in the future.
Based on today’s reports, it seems that’s the plan.
According to Jon Morosi and others, the Blue Jays are among the teams who have had trade talks with the Texas Rangers about slugger Joey Gallo. Also, according to Jason Mackey, the Blue Jays and the Phillies are two teams who are in the mix for Pittsburgh Pirates closer Richard Rodriguez.
Let’s start with Gallo.
Though it doesn’t seem as though Toronto’s offence is the key area of need, Gallo actually makes all kinds of sense for this team. The Blue Jays have a very, very righty-heavy lineup, with the light-hitting Cavan Biggio as the only lefty who currently plays every day. Corey Dickerson, who’s been on the Injured List since he was acquired from the Marlins, would be the other lefty option the team has to break up the glut of righties.
Gallo is one of the league’s best pure power hitters. He’s slashing a .222/.380/.484 line with 24 homers through 94 games in 2021, and he leads baseball with 74 walks. He also plays an excellent corner outfield, as he was one of the AL Gold Glove winners in 2020, and he’s played first and third base in the past.
He’s arbitration-eligible at the end of this season and will be eligible to hit free agency after 2022.
And then there’s Rodriguez, a name we’ve already seen come up in speculation due to the Blue Jays’ connection to Pirates general manager Ben Cherington.
Rodriguez has been one of the very few good things about the Pirates over the past few years. Between 2018 and 2021, he’s made 196 appearances with a 2.98 ERA and has struck out 10 batters per nine while walking just 2.4 per nine. He also has two more years left of team control before he can hit the open market.
Now, that being said, there’s a bit of worry about how Rodriguez will look moving forward. He’s an extreme flyball pitcher and he hasn’t been all that good since MLB cracked down on foreign substances. As you can see on the charts below, Rodriguez’s spin rate has tanked on both of his pitches over the past month-ish and his results have cratered because of it.
In the month of July, Rodriguez has made eight appearances, going eight innings and allowing six earned runs on nine hits and two walks while striking out six. Before that, in 29 outings, Rodriguez tossed 30 1/3 innings and allowed just six earned runs and has a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 27-to-3.
While adding a closer with multiples years of control makes all kinds of sense for this team right now, Rodriguez might not be the best bet.