6. July 6th, 2021
Blue Jays receive: RHP Trevor Richards and RHP Bowden Francis
Milwaukee Brewers receive: 1B Rowdy Tellez
With the Blue Jays acquiring Adam Cimber a week prior, Ross Atkins was still looking to improve the club’s bullpen situation and found an answer in right-hander Trevor Richards from the Milwaukee Brewers. Heading to Toronto alongside Richards was starting pitcher Bowden Francis while fan favourite Rowdy Tellez was packing his bags for Wisconsin.
No stranger to the AL East through his three seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays, Richards became one of the go-to relief pitchers in Charlie Montoyo’s relief corps. The right-hander did have a few rough games where he allowed two or more earned runs but for the most part was solid on the mound, earning a 3.31 ERA with the Blue Jays through 32.2 innings while racking up 37 strikeouts compared to ten walks.
The Blue Jays also acquired prospect Bowden Francis, who currently ranks at #28 on the organization’s top prospect chart. Spending most of the 2021 campaign in AAA, Francis appeared in 14 games for the Bisons and finished with a 4.19 ERA and just 1.192 WHIP through 73.0 innings. There was a slight uptick in his BB/9 after the trade (2.8 to 3.8) but Francis could be a contender to make his MLB debut next season or could be used as trade bait for a team looking for an up and coming starting pitcher with contract control.
Heading to the Brewers was Rowdy Tellez, who was struggling as the Jays designated hitter and was losing reps in the lineup with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. now occupying first base. The Brew Crew were needing a first baseman and Tellez fit the bill, with the slugging left-hander posting a .272/.333/.481 slash line with seven home runs and a .814 OPS through 158 at-bats after being traded. He did find himself relegated to pinch-hitting duties on a few occasions with his new club but will surely benefit if the new CBA comes out with the universal DH rule between both leagues.
Ranked at #6, this trade is a bit tricky because there are a few different parameters at stake. For one, Richards is still with the organization for another two seasons of arbitration (under the previous CBA), which is great to see considering he pitched well for the Jays. That will hopefully carry over into next season but acquiring Francis as well, who helps bolster the Jays starting pitcher depth in the minor leagues, is a solid transaction. Richards was needed to help stabilize the bullpen and alongside Cimber, Tim Mayza, and Jordan Romano, he did exactly what was asked.
The downside of this trade is the loss of Tellez, as the California product was one of the premier left-handed batters in the Jays lineup but struggled to find consistency in the batter’s box. Tellez could emerge as an excellent DH over his career but it didn’t look like he was going to get that opportunity with the Jays.
If Richards continues to pitch well and Francis can emerge into a Major League calibre pitcher, this deal could move up in the rankings, however, if Tellez can continue raking in Milwaukee and Richards/Francis struggle moving forward, a step back in the rankings may be in order.