#1- My top August trade target
If I’m the Blue Jays in search of a top-tier starting pitcher, the first place I’d be calling is an all too familiar spot for Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro, back to their old employer in Cleveland.
Despite the fact that they’re currently sitting in a playoff spot, I do think they could be convinced to part ways with one of their elite starting pitchers. I sincerely doubt that Cleveland will let go of Shane Bieber, but I don’t know that I’d say the same for Mike Clevinger, even if they could certainly use his services in pursuit of a title in 2020. For the right price, I’m willing to bet it could be done, and he has the sort of upside that I’d be happy to see the Blue Jays spend to acquire.
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Last season he was one of the top starters in the AL, posting a 13-4 record with a 2.71 ERA and a 1.056 WHIP across 21 starts. Unfortunately injuries limited him in the second half, but I don’t know that there are any more long-term concerns for his health then there are for any pitcher.
As for contract control, Clevinger is making just 4.1 million this season and remains arbitration eligible for two more seasons. He’s going to get a lot more expensive, but it’s hard to imagine him not being a huge bargain as long as he can stay healthy.
This difference between Clevinger and others on this list is that he’ll require an absolute haul to pry away from Cleveland, even if they’ve been shopping veterans for the last couple of seasons. However, the Blue Jays have the premium prospects to get it done, and this is the type of game-changer that you use them to acquire. What would it take? That’s hard to say, but I’m sure the Blue Jays could offer a more than interesting package, even if they’re restricted to players from their 60-man player pool.
Do I think the Blue Jays are going to be major players for Clevinger? I don’t know, but if the Yankees are sniffing around as is being reported, then I think they need to get their noses in the situation as well. Atkins and Shapiro are more than familiar with the Cleveland front office, and I would hope that they’re in frequent contact to monitor the situation.
Since I’ve only written about five pitchers here, I’m sure there are plenty of arms I’ve missed that you may have been thinking of. I chose not to include rental options like a Taijuan Walker or Trevor Bauer, even if there would be at least some interest in that type of situation. That said, I’m sure there’s someone obvious that I should have included here. Who would you have the Blue Jays target before this week’s trade deadline?