Blue Jays: Some of the best moves that Ross Atkins didn’t make

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 02: General manager Ross Atkins of the Toronto Blue Jays addresses the media after completing a trade earlier in the day that sent Kevin Pillar #11 to the San Francisco Giants during MLB game action against the Baltimore Orioles at Rogers Centre on April 2, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - APRIL 02: General manager Ross Atkins of the Toronto Blue Jays addresses the media after completing a trade earlier in the day that sent Kevin Pillar #11 to the San Francisco Giants during MLB game action against the Baltimore Orioles at Rogers Centre on April 2, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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May 1, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Luis Castillo (58) pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
May 1, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Luis Castillo (58) pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports /

Can’t guarantee what you’re buying

In this case, I’ll start by saying that a month from now the story could be, and likely will be completely different. Having said that, can you imagine if the Blue Jays had paid a premium to acquire Luis Castillo, and then he started things off the same way as he has for Cincinnati this season?

The Blue Jays were quite obviously in the hunt for a starting pitcher that could slot behind Hyun Ryu as at least a #2, and ideally a second ace for the rotation. There aren’t a lot of those guys available in free agency or on the trade market, but there were rumours that the Reds were considering making Castillo available for the right price. The cost would have been sky-high, and probably would have required at least two of Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Simeon Woods Richardson, Alek Manoah, Austin Martin, and Jordan Groshans, and likely other pieces. With Castillo’s talent and contract control, it was going to have to be a haul.

Oddly enough the 28-year-old is off to a terrible start to his 2021 campaign, currently sitting with a 6.07 ERA and a 1.608 WHIP over his first six starts. His strikeouts over nine innings average has dropped to 7.3 from 11.4 last year, and he’s already given up 40 hits over just 29.2 innings, after only allowing 62 hits across 70.0 IP all of last season.

I will repeat, I don’t think this will continue for a starter that has been one of the game’s best over the last few years, but it would have been very alarming for the Blue Jays to pay a premium and then see him start like this. It’s always possible that his arm isn’t 100% healthy too, but unless that’s the case I would expect things to straighten out for the talented Dominican.

What would have made fans panic the most about this trade would have been the package the Blue Jays would have sent back to the Reds, and the early-stage seller’s remorse. Either way, for now it looks like it was wise to hold off on that type of blockbuster deal. Maybe it can be revisited at a later date, and maybe for a cheaper price.

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