3. August 31st, 2020
Blue Jays receive: LHP Robbie Ray and cash
Arizona Diamondbacks receive: LHP Travis Bergen
In an attempt to shore up the pitching staff during the shortened 2020 campaign, Atkins acquired veteran starter Robbie Ray from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for relief pitcher Travis Bergen.
Ray was in the midst of a rough campaign and that carried over to the Blue Jays as well, with the left-hander posting a 4.79 ERA and a 6.1 BB/9 through five appearances with the club. The command was a big issue for Ray all season, with the former Diamondback earning 45 free passes on the year compared to the 65 strikeouts he racked up between both clubs. Bergen would go on to make seven appearances for Arizona in his lone season in the desert, surrendering three earned runs in 6.2 innings of work.
The reason this trade ranks at #3 is not because of the 2020 campaign but because the trade for Ray last season set the stage for the Jays to re-sign the left-hander quickly into the offseason, bringing him back on a one-year $8 million contract. What followed was one of Ray’s best statistical campaigns, finishing the year with a 2.84 ERA through 32 starts while leading the AL in strikeouts (245) and innings pitched (193.1) and earning the Cy Young Award. He was easily the best pitcher on the Jays rotation this season and was a major factor in how the club got so close to making the postseason.
Had Ray re-signed with the Blue Jays this offseason, this trade would rank higher on the list but considering he was out after that one incredible season, it comes in at #3. It will be interesting to see if the left-hander can repeat his incredible 2021 campaign in Seattle moving forward but he has set himself up well with a Mariners organization that boasts some strong prospects and like the Jays, was knocking on the playoff doors last year. Another factor that may have moved this trade further up would be if he pitched well in the playoffs had the Jays made it.
Hilariously enough, Bergen would be traded back to the Blue Jays in late February (for $0 as per his MLB page) and spent the 2021 campaign bouncing between the minor leagues and the active roster. He is currently a free agent. Pretty much a free trade at that point.