How the Blue Jays and Phillies could match up ahead of the trade deadline

TORONTO, ON - MAY 17: Ross Atkins, General Manager of the Toronto Blue Jays ahead of their MLB game against the Seattle Mariners at Rogers Centre on May 17, 2022 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - MAY 17: Ross Atkins, General Manager of the Toronto Blue Jays ahead of their MLB game against the Seattle Mariners at Rogers Centre on May 17, 2022 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

With an increasing need in the rotation these days, the Blue Jays would be wise to keep in touch with the Philadelphia Phillies ahead of the trade deadline.

I’ve actually been looking at the Phillies as a potential seller for a few weeks now, and last night’s injury to Bryce Harper could solidify that direction for Philadelphia. Harper fractured his thumb after being hit by a 97 mph fastball from Blake Snell, and he’s going to be on the sidelines for quite a while. At 37-35 and 9.5 games behind the Mets in the NL East (with the Braves sandwiched in between), it was going to be an uphill climb before they lost their best player.

By no means am I celebrating Harper’s injury, but the Phillies’ loss could be the Blue Jays gain, at least as far as playoff projections. As much as I’d love to see the Blue Jays kick the tire on Philly aces like Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola, my guess is they’ll have a more conservative target in mind. That makes some sense as long as Alek Manoah, Kevin Gausman, and Jose Berrios perform up to their abilities, as they could use some stability almost as much as another ace.

Enter Zach Eflin and Kyle Gibson.

For what it’s worth, I’ve never been high on the idea of the Blue Jays bringing in Gibson, even if they’ve kicked the tires on him in the past. That said, the 34 year old is on an expiring contract and is having a pretty decent season with a 4.06 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP over 14 starts covering 77.2 innings. He functions best as a number three or four starter, and in Toronto that’s pretty much exactly where he’d slot in. He wouldn’t cost a whole lot either, as he’s making just seven million in the last year of his front-loaded contract.

I’m much higher on the idea of pursuing Eflin’s services in the trade market, even if he might be a harder guy to pry away. Efln is also working on an expiring contract, but his comes with a 15 million dollar mutual option for 2023. The right-hander has expressed a desire to stay in Philly going forward, but he could always reject his side of the option after the season is over if he’s traded, and seek to re-sign there in free agency. In the short-term, he could help a contender find some rotation stability, and that’s exactly why I think the Blue Jays should be interested.

Efln hasn’t been dominant this year either, but he’s provided a solid and reliable option for the Phillies. So far he’s posted a 4.43 ERA and a 1.190 WHIP across 14 starts, which is pretty much in line with his career numbers over the course of seven seasons. There might be a little more in the tank for the 28 year old as well, but for the time being the Blue Jays wouldn’t be looking for a project.

It’s unfortunate that the Blue Jays arguably find themselves in need of another starting pitcher, especially because their rotation was projected to be one of the best in baseball. Alek Manoah has more than kept up his end of the bargain with a performance that has him in the early Cy Young conversation, but he’s been the most stable pitcher of the group. Gausman had an incredible start to the year, but hasn’t been quite the same recently, and Jose Berrios has been a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde kinda starter so far. With Hyun Jiin Ryu done for the year after Tommy John surgery, and Yusei Kikuchi looking like he’s experiencing the “yips” with his fastball, suddenly the need in the rotation is pretty real, even if Ross Stripling has been a pleasant surprise.

Next. What can the Blue Jays do with Yusei Kikuchi?. dark

I’m not sure that the Blue Jays will be able to find a solution on the trade market over the next week or two, and the market could shift quite a bit as we approach the All-Star break. As of right now though, the Phillies look like a team that will be worth keeping an eye on as we get closer to the end of July. I doubt they’ll be looking to tear things down in Philly this season, but expiring contracts like Eflin and Gibson could be a different story, and the Blue Jays should certainly keep in touch.