Building a big bullpen deal with the Royals
For a team as bad as the Kansas City Royals have been in 2022, they have some valuable bullpen pieces that the Blue Jays should be interested in.
As you may have heard, the Royals had to leave 10 (!) players at home this week for their trip to Canada for a four-game series with the Blue Jays. Thankfully, the long list didn’t include the names Scott Barlow, or Josh Staumont, who are a pair of right-handed relievers that the Blue Jays should absolutely be calling about right now. To be fair, we don’t know that for certain about Staumont with him being on the IL at the moment, but let’s assume he’d be an option for the Blue Jays for the moment.
It might be a pipe dream to wish for the Blue Jays to get both of the quality relievers, but this is all for fun here anyway, so I thought I’d put together the kind of offer I think it would take to get something done. The problem is that the match doesn’t work as well for the Royals as it did with the Padres and Marlins. The Royals don’t really need a catcher for their rebuild, and a corner outfielder like Hernandez or Gurriel Jr. doesn’t really work with their rebuild timeline either.
With that in mind, here’s what I’m picturing:
Blue Jays get:
CJ Van Eyk
The Blue Jays would be giving up a fair bit of prospect capital here, but I would be more than happy to see them pull a trigger on a deal like this. Barlow has quietly put together one of the best seasons in the American League from a reliever, posting a 2.11 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP over 32 appearances while racking up 43 strikeouts and 16 saves in 18 chances. He’s the kind of swing and miss arm that the Jays really need in the back of the bullpen, and he’d take some pressure off of Jordan Romano. Barlow also has two more seasons of contract control after 2022, so his value would be increased because of that for sure.
As for Staumont, he’s been on the Injured List since he last appeared on June 21st, but he’s currently on a rehab assignment and close to a return to the big league club. This season the 28 year old has a 3.81 ERA and a 1.462 WHIP across 26.0 innings, but he’s been even better than that the over last two years and would definitely raise the floor of the bullpen in Toronto with or without Barlow. Staumont has three more seasons of arbitration eligibility after this one, so he’d be a tough one to pry away.
On the Blue Jays side of the deal, they’d be giving up their #4 and #5 prospects in Jordan Groshans and Otto Lopez. Groshans looks like he’ll ultimately end up at third base, and should be MLB ready sometime in the next year. The power in his bat hasn’t developed like many projected him for, but he’s still young enough to find that stroke and carries plenty of value as a Top 100 prospect at various times over the last couple of years. As for Lopez, he’s a toolsy player that can line up in the infield or the outfield, and could be ready to join the Royals’ big league roster right away.
To sweeten the package I’ve included CJ Van Eyk, a pitcher who ranks #8 on the Blue Jays top prospect list, but is also currently recovering from Tommy John surgery and likely won’t pitch again until the middle of next year, which obviously hurts his value a bit. That said, the former 2nd round pick is only 23 years old, and the Royals can afford to have some patience with him.
To round things out I have Spencer Horwitz, who is a name that’s emerged this season as a potential big league bat from the left side. Horwitz hit well enough in AA that he earned a promotion to Buffalo, and he’s carried on at a similar pace at the next level. He profiles best as a first baseman, and the Royals have some pretty solid prospect depth of their own at the cold corner, but he can also handle a corner outfield spot as well. It might require one more player, or perhaps swapping Van Eyk out for a healthy pitcher, but I believe the value is in the ballpark here anyway. Is this one feasible? Maybe, but the Blue Jays would also be at the mercy of the market, and plenty of teams will be looking for bullpen help.
The good news is that these three ideas I’ve just presented are far from the only way the Blue Jays could potentially improve their roster ahead of the August 2nd trade deadline. I’m not sure if the Jays would be willing to trade players like Hernandez or Gurriel Jr. either, but I do believe we’re reaching a point where the front office will consider something more drastic.
What would you do if you were in Ross Atkins’ shoes right now?