The Toronto Blue Jays are currently in the midst of a road trip that will see them face the NL East leading New York Mets before heading to Boston to face the Red Sox for a four-game series. As of right now, the Jays sit 8.5 games back of the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays, who are currently tied for first in the AL East, and four games back of a Wild Card spot in the American League.
With the trade deadline just five days away, the trading front has been pretty quiet across the league, not just with the Toronto Blue Jays. Ross Atkins did make some deals earlier in the month to acquire RHP Adam Cimber, OF Corey Dickerson, and RHP Trevor Richards in an effort to support the struggling bullpen but nothing has materialized as of late.
The Blue Jays sit in a peculiar position, in that they could go either way when it comes to being buyers or sellers over the next few days. Four games out of a Wild Card spot is not an egregious number by any means and a strong finish to the season could see them make up some ground in the AL East as well but selling off the likes of Marcus Semien and Robbie Ray at the trade deadline could lead to some great returns for next season and beyond.
The Toronto Blue Jays could look to improve their bullpen by calling up the Washington Nationals and seeing if LHP Brad Hand and RHP Daniel Hudson are available.
If the Blue Jays truly want to contend for the postseason this year, they will need to bring in some reinforcements, primarily a few more arms in the bullpen and another bonafide starter if the deal is there. One player who has struck a lot of interest from the Jays’ fanbase is Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer, who could potentially be moved over the next few days.
His 10-5 rights give him a lot of leeway over any potential trade scenario and his agent has already said that he would require a contract extension with his new club before accepting any trade, making the deal that much more difficult to pull off. Throw in the fact that he just missed his last start due to triceps discomfort and the situation gets even more complicated.
That being said, while Scherzer is dominating the headlines in Washington, the Blue Jays could look to improve their bullpen by going after two Nationals relief pitchers in RHP Daniel Hudson and LHP Brad Hand.
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The Blue Jays are no stranger to Hudson, who pitched for the club back in 2019 before being traded to the Nationals, finishing the year as a World Series Champion. While his 2020 season was rough, the right-hander has bounced back with a stellar 2021 campaign, pitching to a 2.37 ERA through 30.1 innings with 45 strikeouts and keeping the opposing team batting average at .176. He is currently in the last year of his contract and will become a free agent at the end of the year.
A free agent this past off-season, Hand was one of the bigger reliever names on the market this past Winter, eventually signing with the Nationals on a one-year deal worth $10.5 million dollars. There was reported interest from the Blue Jays but they instead went on to sign Kirby Yates, Tyler Chatwood, and David Phelps.
Since turning into a full-time reliever in 2016, the southpaw has been an absolute force on the mound, pitching below a 3.30 ERA over the past four seasons while striking out 100+ batters on three separate occasions. This year, Hand has been used as the Nationals closer, compiling a 2.63 ERA over 38 games and 41.0 innings, striking out 40 batters and earning 20 saves on the season so far.
Adding one or both of these relievers would drastically improve the Blue Jays bullpen, proven veteran talent mixed in with the core of Cimber, Richards, Jordan Romano, Tim Mayza, and Ryan Borucki. They would both be considered rentals as their contracts both expire at the end of the season but for the right price, one or both pitchers would be a great addition to the team.
Considering the Nationals are now seven games back of the Mets and are riding a three-game losing streak, it’s not quite known whether the ball club will be selling off some assets or hoping for a second-half rebound to content for the postseason two years removed from winning the World Series.
If Washington is willing to let some other pitchers go besides Scherzer for the right price, the Blue Jays could improve their bullpen in just one deal by adding Daniel Hudson and Brad Hand from the Washington Nationals.