5 Blue Jays players who belong on the trade block right now

Minnesota Twins v Toronto Blue Jays
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Yusei Kikuchi

Pretty rarely do you see a main cog in the starting rotation be listed as a prime candidate to put on the trade block, especially after a strong season. But in the case for Yusei Kikuchi, it just might turn out to be the best move for the team to make.

Kikuchi joined the Jays back in 2022 after signing a three-year contract worth $36M. He had a season he most certainly would like to forget in his first year with the ballclub as he struggled to a 6-7 record with a 5.19 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, giving up 58 earned runs including 23 home runs, along with 58 walks and 124 strikeouts in just 100.2 innings pitched. It got so bad to a point that he had to be relegated to the bullpen towards the end of the season with hopes to maximize his effectiveness by facing fewer batters, but to no avail.

Kikuchi bounced back with a huge season in 2023 when he was given the chance to start once again. Taking full advantage of the opportunity, he posted career-best numbers with a stellar 11-6 record, 3.86 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, along with 181 strikeouts in just 167.2 innings of work over 32 starts. However, despite his much improved play, his inconsistency in his command that has plagued him for much of his MLB career arose once again towards the end of the season, taking a little shine off of his turnaround performance.

Entering the 2024 season, there is some doubt that remains on whether Kikuchi can repeat that kind of performance and that it wasn’t just a one-off thing. However, when taking a look at his ZiPS and Steamer projections for his outlook in 2024, it does not bode well for him as his numbers are expected to regress considerably. In addition, both Rodríguez and Alek Manoah are expected to challenge for a starting spot entering spring training. Added to the fact that Kikuchi is in his final year of his contract with the Jays, it would be wise for the team to capitalize on his current value, which may be at its absolute highest at this moment. To do so, they should consider trading him for valuable assets that can help the team contend for this year and beyond.