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A trade could be in the works for the Blue Jays given their pitching depth

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Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Brennan Delaney
2 months ago
It seems like the Blue Jays will be adding Yariel Rodríguez to the pitching staff in 2024.
The two parties have agreed to a deal worth $32 million over the next four seasons, but it’s not officially official as of yet, as it’s still pending a physical and there’s been issues with immigration.
Still, it’s increasingly becoming more obvious the Jays have figured out a solution for the fifth starter with the flexibility to be a swingman and a reliever. That begs the question, could the Jays move one of their starters to acquire a bat? With the bigger question, who would be on the move? Let’s take a look.

Alek Manoah:

It’s no secret that the 26-year-old struggled in 2023 with a 5.87 ERA and a 6.01 FIP in 87.1 innings pitched. Moreover, he had a career-low 19 K% and a career-high 14.2 BB%. Still, Manoah finished third in American League Cy Young voting in 2022, which was just his sophomore season, and the Blue Jays see his value as such.
I’d imagine that if they traded a starter, Manoah would carry the most value, even if he had a down season in 2023. Alternatively, they could keep him and hope he finds his form in 2024, leaving Rodríguez as the swing man until the next pitcher’s contracts up.

Yusei Kikuchi:

It was the complete opposite scenario for the left-handed pitcher in 2023. After signing a three-year, $36 million deal before the start of the 2022 season, Kikuchi had a 5.19 ERA and a  5.62 FIP in 100.2 innings in his first season as a Jay. The season was so bad that the Jays moved him to the bullpen, where he continued to strikeout batters, but struggled with the long ball and walks.
The 2023 season was the 32-year-old’s best season since coming to North America. He had a 3.86 ERA and a 4.12 FIP, the former being a career-best and the latter being his second best, only behind his 47 innings in 2020.
Kikuchi’s K% of 25.9% was also the second best he’s had in his career, with his 6.9 BB% being tied for his career-low. On top of that, his K-BB% of 19% was his best in his five-year career. He’s in the final season of his deal and will make $10 million with $12 million going towards the luxury tax.

Mitch White:

It’s been well documented that the 29-year-old has struggled with the Blue Jays, posting a 7.11 ERA and a 4.91 FIP in 12.2 innings with the Jays in 2023. He was designated for assignment and played significantly better once reaching Triple-A for the second time that season. 
From August 18 to the end of the season, White had a 1.89 ERA and a 3.21 FIP in 33.1 innings pitched with a 31.4 K% and a 10.2 BB%. The Jays added him to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.
Sadly, White appears to be the odd-man out as it stands with Rodríguez’s signing. To make matters worse, White has no option years remaining for the second straight season, unlike Bowden Francis who has another option season left. So if White doesn’t impress in spring training or heads to the injured list, the Jays will have to designate him for assignment again.
Instead of doing that, they could find a trade for him and get whatever value they could, as most teams’ 40-man roster is open.

To conclude:

It may be a possibility that the Blue Jays manage to keep all three of these guys as well as Bowden Francis, but that would mean Rodríguez starts, White makes the big leagues, and Manoah in the minor leagues, and, which is less than ideal for a pitcher a season removed from a Cy Young nomination.
It’ll be interesting to see what the Blue Jays do moving forward!

As always, you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads @Brennan_L_D.

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