Blue Jays: Could Cleveland or New York come calling for a starter?

MIAMI, FL - MAY 28: Matt Shoemaker #52 of the Los Angeles Angels pitches during a game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on May 28, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - MAY 28: Matt Shoemaker #52 of the Los Angeles Angels pitches during a game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on May 28, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

It’s early into the 2019 season, but both the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians have lost key players out of their starting rotations for the immediate future, and may very well check with the Blue Jays about available options.

The Toronto Blue Jays have shown a willingness to make trades early into a rebuilding season, and with their starters all pitching well to begin the 2019 campaign, there’s a possibility that one or both of the Cleveland Indians or New York Yankees could start checking in on which Blue Jays pitchers are available. This is just speculation at this point, but it does make a fair bit of sense.

Cleveland currently has a 7-4 record and has received excellent starting pitching to date. Mike Clevinger had been a big part of that early success, pitching to a 0.00 ERA over two starts (12 innings) with a nasty 22 strikeouts.

He was one of the American League’s best pitchers to start the season before leaving a game against the Blue Jays last Sunday with upper back pain. What seemed like a harmless tweak, in the beginning, has turned into a real problem for the tribe as it has been reported that Clevinger has a major muscle strain in his back, and won’t even pick up a baseball for 6-8 weeks, possibly pushing back his return date to near the All-Star game.

For the Yankees, they are having a historically bad year for injuries, and their luck has seemed to have gotten even worse lately as news broke on Tuesday that Luis Severino has suffered a grade 2 lat strain, and that set back will hold him out for a further 6-8 weeks. Severino had already suffered shoulder inflammation during spring training, which had delayed his season debut until at least May, but with this latest injury it’s possible that he could be out for the first half of the season. He injured his lat playing catch this week while rehabbing from his shoulder injury.

Both the Cleveland and the Yankees seem intent on competing in 2019, so that could put the Blue Jays into a good position to trade with either team as they have an abundance of starting pitchers performing well to start the season.

Both Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez have started the season impressively, and without either having long-term contracts in Toronto, it’s possible that the trade talks around the talented young duo could commence. The asking price for both would be at the top end of the spectrum, so if either is dealt then we should expect a hefty return.

If either starter-needy team is looking for experience, then surely Matt Shoemaker’s name immediately comes to mind. Shoemaker is experiencing a resurgence in 2019 holding a 3-0 record with a 0.92 ERA over 19.2 innings for the Blue Jays. Being that Shoemaker is on a one year deal on a rebuilding team, that puts him front and centre for availability, and interested teams would likely have to pay less for him in prospects than either Stroman or Sanchez.

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Also, there is Clay Buchholz who will be making his season debut for the Blue Jays against the Rays this Saturday. He held an impressive 2.01 ERA in 2018 for Arizona, and definitely has the kind of experience competing teams would be looking for. It seems a bit odd, making trade arguments for a player who has not even suited up for a game yet, but if the Blue Jays front office has shown anything this year, it’s a willingness to make deals whenever they become available. Add to that fact that Buchholz was likely acquired as a trade piece in the first place, and the possibility of him being moved early does not look so crazy. If Kendrys Morales can get traded the night before the season starts, then anything can happen.

Clayton Richard, who is currently on the injured list, could also be dealt. However, it would be more likely that the contenders would stick with an internal option like Domingo German instead of trading for the veteran southpaw. Though Richard could factor into a rotation spot if a Blue Jays starter is traded, giving the Blue Jays front office more flexibility in making swaps if they feel they have a good one.

We know that Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins have a history with making deals with Cleveland so it’s not too far-fetched to think it could happen again. Also with the Boston Red Sox faltering as of late, the Yankees could be motivated to make a move now to secure their rotation.

Next. 2019, the year of "why not give it a shot?". dark

For the Blue Jays with Ryan Borucki returning at some point, and Clayton Richard also available soon, the Blue Jays could be in a position to trade one of their starters for prospect capital sooner than later.