The Toronto Blue Jays are currently riding a seven-game winning streak stretching back to before the All-Star break when the club took three games from the depleted Kansas City Royals squad.
Since the return from the Midsummer Classic, the Blue Jays have swept the Boston Red Sox, outscoring their opponents 40-10 with a franchise-record win last Friday, and taking last night’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals 10-3, backed by a Vladimir Guerrero Jr. home run early and a George Springer grand slam midway through the contest.
With one more game against the St. Louis Cardinals this evening, the Blue Jays continue their schedule at home by welcoming the Detroit Tigers for a four-game series that will finish off the month of July. The Tigers currently sit in the basement of the AL Central division and are riding a 2-8 streak over their last ten games.
With the trade deadline just under a week away and the Blue Jays looking for some pitching help down the stretch to help keep the club within a Wild Card spot, there is a possibility that some players might be making the awkward trek from the visitor’s clubhouse to the Jays clubhouse this weekend.
While the Tigers have been struggling this year, the one thing they have going for them is that they have multiple bullpen arms that have been lights out this season. The relief corps owns a 3.09 ERA on the season (ranked fourth in the league) and is a mixture of veteran talent with talented young prospects that could be intriguing for the Blue Jays, especially since it appears that the Tigers are willing to listen to almost everybody on the roster.
As you can see above, the Tigers have a lot of talented relief arms, with multiple players having 35+ appearances on the season but pitching to a sub-3.50 ERA on the year. Even when you look at the Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) stat, which looks at only events the pitcher can control on the mound, they all still rank well and some even improve like Joe Jiménez and Andrew Chafin.
A few players do have a high walk value like Michael Fulmer and Wily Peralta (currently on the 15-day IL) but there are some intriguing names on this list that could benefit the Blue Jays this season and potentially beyond if the right deal can be made.
The Blue Jays will face the Detroit Tigers this weekend, and with the Tigers relief corps pitching well, an ideal trade partner could be closer than you think.
While the Tigers are apparently willing to listen to trade packages for almost every player, the least likely to get dealt from the group above include Alex Lange, Will Vest, Jason Foley, and Gregory Soto, as each one of these players has three or more years of team control. It wouldn’t really make much sense for the Tigers to trade these players but I am sure they could be persuaded to sell high if the right package comes along.
More likely to be traded are Michael Fulmer, Andrew Chafin, Wily Peralta, and Joe Jiménez, as each player is free agent eligible after this season or next. Chafin has a player option worth $6.5 million next year while Jimenez has one more year of arbitration before free agency. Depending on what the Blue Jays are looking for in a reliever determines which player will fit their needs the best.
Peralta is currently dealing with a hamstring strain dating back to early July and is getting close to a rehab assignment in the minors. He might not be the top trade target but could be packaged alongside another reliever to give the Blue Jays additional depth while mitigating the previous injury risk over the remainder of the season with the extra arm added in. Jiménez throws a mid-90s fastball and if the Blue Jays are looking for some heat in the back end of the bullpen then this is the guy to trade for on the Tigers. His fastball velocity ranks in the 82nd percentile and he combines that with a wicked slider to create whiffs and strike out batters at an 11.8 K/9.
If the Blue Jays want another southpaw then look no further than Andrew Chafin, as the mustached reliever has been phenomenal to batters on both sides of the plate this year. He creates weak contact with his sinker/slider/fastball mix and has held opponents to a .214 batting average on the year.
Lastly, there is Michael Fulmer, a starter turned reliever who is having a strong year in the bullpen. He uses his slider and sinker to create swing and miss in his game and opposing batters have lots of trouble hitting the ball cleanly, evident by his 99th percentile in barrel %. He has struggled against left-handed batters (.867 OPS through 51 at-bats) but has blown away righties in the box, holding them to a .189 batting average and a .370 OPS on the year. The walks have also been an issue at times (4.6 BB/9) but he also keeps the ball in the yard, allowing only one home run on the year so far.
Overall, there is a multitude of options available to the Blue Jays should they try and trade for a relief pitcher or two this weekend. It will be interesting to see if any of the Tigers players are on the restricted list for this weekend due to vaccination status, as that would surely kibosh any potential trade opportunity.