In July the Blue Jays traded Daniel Hudson to Washington, and the move has worked out well for the Nationals on route to their World Series appearance. The Blue Jays may have missed the boat a little bit on this one.
We’re down to just three teams left in the MLB postseason, and soon either the Astros or Yankees will advance from the ALCS to meet the Washington Nationals in the World Series. The latter stamped their ticket to the Fall classic with an NLCS sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals, and now they wait for their opponent.
The Nationals have gotten this far because of a number of key contributors, but one of the unsung heroes has been former Blue Jay, Daniel Hudson. The right-hander was acquired by Washington back in July and he was a quiet pickup that has made a world of difference in their thin bullpen. He’s been one of the most trusted arms, and I’m not sure the Nats are here without him. Sure, guys like Max Scherzer have done the heaviest lifting, but the back of the bullpen is as important as ever.
Hudson was solid for the Blue Jays in 45 appearances and 48 innings pitched, posting a 3.00 ERA and a 1.271 WHIP. However, after arriving in Washington he took things to another level, posting an 1.44 ERA and an 0.88 WHIP in 24 appearances covering 25.0 innings. He’s continued that production by not allowing a run through 5.2 innings so far during the playoffs.
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What did the Nationals have to give up for this massive upgrade to their bullpen? Well, not all that much really. They sent a minor league pitcher by the name of Kyle Johnston to Toronto, who could still have some upside. At the time of the trade he had posted a 4.09 ERA in High-A as a 23-year-old, although he didn’t fare too well after moving to Dunedin at the same level. He ended up throwing 19.2 frames, posting a 10.07 ERA and a 1.932 WHIP with the Blue Jays.
I’m sure Johnston will perform better than that in 2020, however, he’s a complicated case for the Blue Jays to consider this winter, and it’s possible he could be with another organization by then. In order for the Blue Jays to hang on to him, he’ll have to be added to the 40-man roster, something that could be very difficult to do. The club already has several different decisions to weigh over the winter, and finding room for a fringe arm like Johnston could be difficult. That said, it’s possible that he could slip through the cracks without being protected as well.
For Ross Atkins and the rest of the front office, it looks like the gamble of trading Hudson may not work out this time. That’s okay though, as not every roll of the dice is going to turn out in your favour, and trading an expiring contract like Hudson’s made all the sense in the world. It’s a shame they couldn’t have found a better return, but I don’t think anyone saw this type of performance coming from him either.
As the front office does their shopping this off-season, hopefully they’ll look to stock the bullpen with some arms similar to what Hudson brought to the table this season. And next time, hopefully they’ll get a little better return. The Nationals sure got their money’s worth this time.