The Toronto Blue Jays were in desperate need of relief pitching heading into the trade deadline. In particular, the Jays needed a hard-throwing bullpen anchor who could punch out opposing batters with ease and slot in with Adam Cimber and Yimi Garcia at the back end of the bullpen.
When all was said and done, the Blue Jays appeared interested in a few different arms but walked away with Marlins relievers Anthony Bass and Zach Pop as well as Dodgers swingman Mitch White. These acquisitions do make the Jays bullpen better overall but none of these pitchers was the strikeout-type arm that many fans thought the club needed.
One pitcher the Blue Jays were interested in according to Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith was right-hander Raisel Iglesias, who was pitching with the Los Angeles Angels prior to the deadline. While his 4.04 ERA may look bad alone, he was also owning a 3.18 FIP and 1.065 WHIP heading into early August, indicative that he was not getting support behind him on the field when needed. The Cuban product has a four-pitch arsenal that focuses mostly on his slider and fastball, with the heater clocking in around the 95-97 MPH area. More importantly, Iglesias was striking out batters at an impressive 12.1 K/9, racking up 48 punchouts in 35.2 innings pitched at the time.
The Toronto Blue Jays were in talks with numerous teams at the trade deadline and might kick themselves for not acquiring RHP Raisel Iglesias.
While the Jays reportedly kicked the tires on Iglesias and his remaining $48 million over the next three seasons, the Angels eventually traded him to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for RHP Jesse Chavez and LHP Tucker Davidson. For the Jays, it isn’t entirely sure if the Iglesias acquisition hinged on the addition of RHP Noah Syndergaard as well, but at the end of the day, the Blue Jays acquired neither pitcher.
Since joining Atlanta, Iglesias has taken over the closer role with the Braves trading Will Smith to the Houston Astros, as the right-hander had 156 saves through his eight-year career in the Majors prior to the swap. So far with the Braves, he has allowed just four hits through 7.0 innings of work with one earned run compared to two walks and seven strikeouts. Iglesias has seen a dip in his K/9 to 9.0 but his 1.29 ERA through eight outings is certainly impressive.
It’s not entirely sure why the Jays and the Angels weren’t able to strike some sort of deal but committing $16 million each season for the next three years is a steep price for the closer, so I wonder if the front office was wanting some sort of cash in return to offset the deal. That would make sense considering the Jays have quite a bit of money tied up in George Springer, Kevin Gausman, and a handful of others with young players like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette in line for hefty raises in arbitration next year (and potentially long-term deals).
Regardless of the reason, both Anthony Bass and Zach Pop are playing well right now for the Jays and White will get his third start with the club tomorrow against the Yankees, which helps offset the fact that the Jays didn’t acquire a big strikeout arm like Iglesias at the deadline.
Considering the Jays’ financial position and the package given up to acquire Raisel Iglesias, this could be one deal the front office might be kicking themselves further down the line but understandably the cost may have been too high when looking at the salary or trade package required to bring in the 6’2″ reliever.