Blue Jays: Why they brought in Tom Koehler

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 23: Tom Koehler
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 23: Tom Koehler /

The Blue Jays made a minor trade on Saturday, acquiring om Koehler from the Miami Marlins in exchange for sman Gutierrez. Koehler will presumably provide some depth in the rotation for the Blue Jays.

It wasn’t the flashiest of trades, but the Blue Jays acquired another starting pitcher on Saturday, bringing Tom Koehler into the fold. They sent Osman Gutierrez to the Miami Marlins in the deal, which with all due respect to Gutierrez, is a relatively low cost.

Koehler has had a difficult season in the majors in 2017, but has a solid track record as a starting pitcher for the Marlins, and has thrived while pitching in Triple A. He was 9-13 with a 4.33 ERA in 2016, and had his best season in 2014 when he finished 10-10 with a 3.81 ERA in 32 starts, throwing a career high 191.1 innings.

He’s never been a top of the rotation type, but he’s been an effective back of the rotation arm who has contributed a lot of innings for the Marlins from 2013 up to the present, having made 132 starts for Miami while finishing his tenure there with a 4.33 ERA.

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The Marlins also sent cash considerations with Koehler, which helped make the deal happen. The 31 year old is making 5.75 million this year, and has one more year of arbitration eligibility. Given his rocky performance this year, it’s hard to imagine him getting much of a raise, if any.

That said, he’s a worthwhile gamble for a number of reasons. First, the options are limited in August in the starting pitching market, and the Blue Jays are a team that could use the depth. Koehler could start things off in Buffalo, or the Jays may decide to roll the dice with him during the upcoming week. They have Marcus Stroman, Marco Estrada, and J.A. Happ as established pieces, but they’ll rolling with Chris Rowley and Nick Tepesch in the other two spots at the moment. While Rowley has been great and Tepesch has been mostly serviceable, the depth is a solid idea from the front office.

After it looked like the Blue Jays were finished in the playoff race as recently as a few weeks ago, their improved play of late likely motivated the front office to take a shot on an experienced veteran that might be able to help the big league rotation. They have lost the first two games against the Cubs at Wrigley field, but as Sunday’s schedule begins they’re just 4.0 games back. It’s a tall order with so many teams between them and the second wild card spot, but it’s not impossible, especially when they still have 39 games to play.

With Aaron Sanchez having a successful session throwing off flat ground this weekend, it’s possible he could be back sooner than later as well, although it’s hard to rely on that at this point. If they have designs on continuing to pursue a Wild Card birth, taking a shot on Koehler at a minimal cost makes perfect sense for a lot of reasons. He’s the type of pitcher who could greatly benefit from a change of environment, and with the Blue Jays’ needs it’s a worthwhile game.

Next: Did Sanchez take a jab at Stroman on social media?