Acquiring any type of prospect for a struggling left handed bullpen specialist, at the trade deadline, should be considered a win. But acquiring a major league calibre pitcher, should be considered a home run. At the 2018 trade deadline, the Blue Jays traded Aaron Loup to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for a 24-year old minor league prospect with a losing record and 5.06 ERA in AAA.
Aaron Loup had some ups and downs over his career, but his ups seemed to have been closer to the beginning of his time, and the downs closer to the end of his time with the Jays.
Over his final four years (2015-2018), Loup posted a 4.26 ERA, which was drastically higher than three previous years of 2.77 ERA. With Loup going into free agency it was time to trade the left-handed pitcher. Loup was traded to Philadelphia and would go on to pitch four innings for the Phillies before suffering an injury. He was signed this past season by San Diego, but is currently on the 60-day IL after pitching just four games.
Now on to the return for Aaron Loup, as the Blue Jays acquired Jacob Waguespack and nobody thought much of the deal of the deal at the time. Ross Atkins had his typical comment for pumping up the player “Waguespack is a very exciting pitcher that has strikeouts, power and size”.
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Waguespack was originally drafted out of high school in the 37th round by Pittsburgh in 2012 but went unsigned and was never drafted again. Waguespack signed as an amateur free agent with Philadelphia in 2015 and never really had any hype behind him.
Waguespack never even cracked the top 30 prospect list on the Phillies MLB Prospect List. However, through the minor leagues for the Phillies, Waguespack continued to pitch good games and averaged a strikeout per inning. Atkins took a flyer on a player, as there was no real downside to the trade as Loup’s career seemed to have gone downhill and there was not a whole lot of value in him. Waguespack was sent to Buffalo where he posted a 2-4 record with a 5.03 ERA, but struck out 33 batters in 39 1/3 innings and allowed just one walk every four innings.
In 2019, Waguespack started the year in Buffalo and was unspectacular with a 2-6 record, 5.30 ERA, but again 52 strikeouts in 52 2/3 innings. With all the inconsistency in the Blue Jays rotation, the Jays have used him in 10 games this season. In 52 innings this year, he is averaging seven strikeouts per inning and just 2.8 walks per nine innings. He also lowered his MLB ERA to 3.63 after last night’s start against the Dodgers, which isn’t bad in any way as it goes nicely with a 4-1 record.
I believe it was Dan Schulman who voiced on the air the other night that Waguespack won’t blow you away, but he seems to always keep you in games and won’t pitch you out of them. He seems to consistently give you a 92-93 mph fastball, 5-6 innings and surrenders between 2-4 runs in those games. While he won’t give you that Roy Halladay feeling, he is keeping the Jays in games.
Thursday night we got a real glimpse into what Waguespack could bring to the future. Against one of the best hitting and all around teams in baseblall, Waguespack needed just 96 pitches to cruise through the Dodgers line-up. Waguespack often touched 95 mph and allowed just one hit and one walk over seven complete innings. This was the longest and best outing of Waguespack’s young career. In fact, the only hit off of him was a mistake off-speed pitch to the Dodgers pitcher Kenta Maeda for a soft single to left field.
Going into the 2020 season, I think the Jays should have a long look at Waguespack as a back end of the rotation starter, and at a minimum, he can fit into the long man spot. Looking back at the trade, Waguespack has already given the Blue Jays good value and everything else is a bonus.