It’s more than obvious that the Blue Jays could use a boost to their bullpen, and the 29-48 Kansas City Royals might just have an answer or two.
With the Royals sitting of the bottom of the AL Central standings, and with the second worst record in the American League, it stands to reason that they’ll be sellers ahead of the Aug 2nd trade deadline. If that’s the case, I’m guessing the Blue Jays will be on the phone with more than a few ideas. They could very well be interested in the left-handed bat of Andrew Benintendi, who is on an expiring contract and could be traded this month, but I would think the higher priority would be on pitching help.
Thankfully the Royals might have an answer or two for the Jays, depending on what they’re willing to send back in return of course. More than anything, the Blue Jays could use another late-inning reliever capable of piling up strikeouts, and Scott Barlow might be as good of a fit as you’re going to find.
The right-hander is having an All-Star calibre season for the Royals in 2022 as he’s pitched to a 2.25 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP over 32 appearances. He’s struck out 36 batters over 36.0 innings against 11 walks, and has saved 12 games in 14 chances for the Royals. He was just as good in 2021 as well during his first elite MLB performance, saving 16 games with a 2.42 ERA over 74.1 innings.
Barlow has additional appeal because he would come with two more seasons of contract control according to spotrac.com, and he’s making just 2.4 million in 2022. He’ll be due a sizeable raise as he goes through arbitration in each of the next two off-seasons, but the investment should be more than worthwhile if they can convince the Royals to part with the 29 year old.
Barlow isn’t the only reliever that should have appeal to the Blue Jays either, even if he’s the obvious candidate at the top of the list. Josh Staumount could make some sense too, even if he’s currently on the 15-day Injured List while dealing with a neck strain. Ideally the Blue Jays would have a healthy arm that could help them immediately, but I doubt the Royals are going to trade Staumont before he’s returned to the active roster anyway.
The 28 year old has served as a late-inning option for the Royals for a few years now, and has performed well in the role. He’s a high-strikeout kinda arm as well, and is capable of dialling up his fastball up to 97-98 miles per hour as well. He has three years of contract control remaining and is making just $728,000 this year, so it’s possible the Royals will just hang on to him.
Lastly, the Jays could do worse than looking at an old friend in Joel Payamps. He wouldn’t be the closer/set-up man type of arm the Blue Jays truly need, but he’s found some success with a 2.96 ERA over 27.1 innings in 2022. I’d be more interested in a Barlow AND Payamps kinda situation, but he’s another reliever to keep an eye on, even if his 1.43 WHIP hints that he could struggle a bit more in the second half.
There are a few other potential teams for the Blue Jays to contact about relief help, and that list could include the likes of the Pirates, Tigers, and more, and will likely expand as we get closer to the trade deadline. For now, I like the fit with the Royals as much as any team, and hopefully the Blue Jays are already working the phones and bugging J.J. Piccolo and the Royals front office.