Blue Jays: Three starting pitchers who are the most likely trade candidates

DENVER, COLORADO - JULY 18: Starting pitcher Jon Gray #55 of the Colorado Rockies throws against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the second inning at Coors Field on July 18, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
DENVER, COLORADO - JULY 18: Starting pitcher Jon Gray #55 of the Colorado Rockies throws against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the second inning at Coors Field on July 18, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /
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Blue Jays
SAN DIEGO, CA – JULY 11: Jon Gray #55 of the Colorado Rockies pitches during the fifth inning of a baseball game agains the San Diego Padres at Petco Park on July 11, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Blue Jays currently sit 4.5 games back of a spot in the AL Wild Card and 10.5 games back of the Boston Red Sox for first in the AL East. While there is still plenty of time to gain ground with over two months of baseball left in the season, the Blue Jays will need to acquire some pitching help if they want to contend for a World Series championship this season.

The bullpen has been the main focal point of the club for the past month, as Ross Atkins went out and acquired relievers Adam Cimber and Trevor Richards in an effort to shore up the relief corps. While both players have been pitching well, it wouldn’t hurt to have a few more arms in the bullpen for the rest of the season.

The Blue Jays could also use another bonafide starting pitcher, one with experience and could help the rotation push for another postseason. While names like Max Scherzer and Jose Berrios have been dominating the headlines, both pitchers would make good options to help stabilize the Blue Jays starting rotation.

I personally think that if the club is serious about contending this season and beyond, they will need to pony up some prospects to get deals like this done for high-level talent. However, Ross Atkins has not been one to pull off the biggest deadline deals considering the past few years have seen the team rebuilding, so the situation has never really presented the opportunity, so it wouldn’t be surprising if the Jays end up acquiring veteran arms that sit in the 3-5 area in the rotation. Veteran experience but not the flashy, top-of-the-order arm you would hope to get.

I also would like to see the Blue Jays go after non-rental players but they may be tougher to acquire if Atkins is unwilling to deal high-value prospects (see above).

If the Toronto Blue Jays are unwilling to deal prospect capital for high-end pitching at this year’s trade deadline, there are a few suitable options that could help stabilize the rotation at a lower asking price.

If the Blue Jays are unwilling to unload some top-level prospect talent, they will have to look further down the ladder for pitching help. While they pale in comparison to the likes of Scherzer and Berrios (and should be the pitchers this team goes after if they truly want to contend), there are some pitchers out there who could provide some stability to the rotation without costing too much prospect capital.

Jon Gray – Colorado Rockies 

Drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the first round of the 2013 MLB Draft, RHP Jon Gray has not been able to live up to the high expectations one expects from a high draft pick. His career 4.47 ERA is the result of some rough seasons in 2015, 2018, and 2020 and he even led the league in earned runs (98) back in 2018.

Pitching at the hitter-friendly confines of Coors Field obviously didn’t help those numbers but Gray has been pitching well this season, starting 18 games and sporting a 3.67 ERA with 91 strikeouts and a 1.22 WHIP through 98.0 innings of work. He has kept the opponent’s batting average down to .220 and although he missed time earlier in June on the injured list, Gray has been one of the Rockies’ better arms in the rotation this year.

If the Blue Jays were to acquire Gray, he would be considered a rental as he will be heading to free agency at the end of the season. The Rockies are looking to unload some players and head towards a possible rebuild, so there is a chance that Gray could be traded and might be an alright option for the right price. He would not cost a significant amount of prospect capital because he is a rental player that isn’t a top of the rotation arm but the Jays’ would be banking on him continuing to pitch well despite his previous track history.

The New York Mets also appear to be interested in Gray’s services (as well as acquiring SS Trevor Story) so we shall see if the Blue Jays are interested in making a deal with an old friend in the Colorado Rockies.