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The Blue Jays and the Trade Deadline: Looking for relievers and a long-term 2B option

Ryan Snodgrass
1 year ago
The Blue Jays have a need for pitching. Specifically, they need another high-leverage situation pitcher who can take the heat off of Jordan Romano, or even serve as the closer in certain situations. 
Here are some pitchers on non-contending teams who could fill that role…

Hunter Harvey (Nationals, RHP)

Harvey is a 28-year-old right-handed relief pitcher for the Nationals who have taken over a part-time closing/set-up role in 2023. While he recently made a few blown saves in May, his stuff is legit.  For Jays fans wanting a high-powered bullpen arm, Harvey is in the 97th percentile for fastball velocity, to pair with an 89th percentile rank for K%. He keeps his walks in check and has thrown himself in high-leverage situations all year. 
He primarily throws his 4-seam fastball that averages just around 98 mph which he throws 62% of the time. He pairs this with a spit finger changeup, that separates his fastball with a 10-mph difference! Both pitchers have batting averages below .200. If he were to come to the Jays, maybe he could get some tips from Kevin Gausman and develop that pitch.  
I think the main problem with Harvey is the location and command of his pitches. His fastball can be great but needs to be consistent with his zones and mix in those other three pitches for strikes. This year, he’s managing to get the first pitch strike 64% of the time which is good. I also do not think it would be extremely expensive to get him either as he is 28 on a rebuilding squad like the nationals, a C-list prospect could probably do the trick, of which the Jays have an abundance. 

Carlos Hernandez (Royals, RHP)

If you like what Harvey might bring to the team, then you’ll love what Hernandez is all about. For one, he throws 99mph on the dot with his 4-seam fastball, he then pairs it with not only a slider but can throw three other pitches with a 10-mph difference for his slider. He throws his fastball about 53% of the time and is quite filthy. If the Jays do not believe in someone like Nate Pearson, Hernandez could be a fine replacement. His fastball grades as 10 points above average, which for reference is 3 below Pearson’s fastball. Hernandez’s best pitch might just be his slider, which ranks 50 points above the league average (second-best in the league for relievers, just behind teammate Aroldis Chapman). 
Hernandez does not have otherworldly movement profiles, however, a quick look at his baseball-savant page tells us the whole story.
Given Hernandez is only 26 years old, it’s difficult to say if the Royals would move him this year. He still has options and has many years left of team control, but he could be an intriguing option. Hernandez might cost more than Harvey, but he is undoubtedly having a great year playing in high-leverage situations for the rebuilding club. 

Jake Bird (Rockies, RHP)

Colorado is usually my go-to team to look at potential ads every year, and this year is no different.  Being in a worse position than the Jays, the chances of Colorado making the playoffs are slim, if they are looking to sell, they have a few strong bullpen arms they could trade.  The 6’3, 200lbs right-hander is among the better options for the Jays could grab this year.  
Bird has one of the best curveballs in the league this year with incredible movement, it has a wOBA of .026! This has led to one of the best barrel % in the league.  Playing at high altitude in Colorado is no joke, so seeing a pitcher with a pitch as successful as Bird’s curveball could be an interesting addition to the bullpen. His velocity is down this year, as his sinker is 1 mph slower than last year, however, Bird is counted on in a decent Rockies bullpen in high-leverage situations, so the Jays could definitely do worse. 
The 27-year-old is arbitration eligible in 2026 and does not hit free agency until 2029, so the Jays would be getting many years of control for a bullpen piece that could replace some of our higher-leverage pitchers. It’s unclear what it would take to get a deal done, however, it would be an interesting move, if the Jays used him properly. 

A potential long-term option for second base…

I figured that since the Jays hit a massive skid in May, upgrading the lineup at the trade deadline to me is necessary if the Jays are looking to make a substantial playoff run.  2nd base seems like an obvious choice to upgrade, with the underperforming Santiago Espinal and the platoon of Whit Merrifield, the Jays could use more day-to-day stability.  This would also give the option for the Jays to send down other bench pieces such as Cavan Biggio  The player I’m thinking about is not a perennial gold glove by any stretch, but he is a reliable bat and a great clubhouse presence.  With the amount of depth, the Reds have in the infield, perhaps the Jays could make a splash and consider trading for Jonathan India. 
India is considered by some to be the captain of the Reds, but the 26-year-old (who does not hit free agency until 2027), is seemingly losing his spot to the game’s top prospect Elly De La Cruz at some point this year.  Cincinnati could potentially get a decent haul for him, be it this year or even next year.
India had a disappointing 2022 campaign mainly due to injuries.  However, this year he has an OPS of .807 in an unprotected lineup.  His wRC+ sits at 115, which is over double the amount Espinal has, and higher than Merrifield.  With the Jays having the 18th-best production coming from 2nd base in the league, India could be the supporting piece that both Espinal and Merrifield combined could not produce. 
Would India single-handily save the Blue Jay’s season? No. Would he be a clear upgrade for the roster in the short/long term? I believe so. Am I just saying this because I have him in my fantasy league team and wished he would play for the Jays? Maybe. However, check out his baseball savant page and tell me he wouldn’t help our team.
I think the one given downside to this is that he is not a left-handed batter. However, his production is undeniable. He is someone who has an OPS of .724 against lefties and it’s better against righties. India can spray the ball over the field is exactly what the Jays were looking for this offseason, and while his power numbers are down compared to his rookie year where he hit over 20 home runs, I think that given the right environment with consistent at-bats, he could be a player and definitely be a positive contribution to the lineup every day.  
Anyways, that’s the article folks! Let me know what part of the Jays team you would have us trade for because there seems like a move or two is needed for this club. 

ARTICLE PRESENTED BY BETANO

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