One trade the Blue Jays likely wish they had a do-over on

Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays / Vaughn Ridley/GettyImages

Back in 2021, with the Toronto Blue Jays having just come off a surprising COVID-shortened season in 2020 in which they made the playoffs for the first time since 2016, they were looking to build upon that success and remain as strong contenders for years to come. However, that year, they ran into a huge problem with their bullpen at the time, which was led by the likes of Tyler Chatwood, Rafael Dolis and company. The bullpen was blowing many games left and right, forcing Jays’ management to desperately find a quick solution to hopefully salvage the season.

One of the solutions eventually involved the Jays acquiring a pitching package from the Milwaukee Brewers that centered on Trevor Richards, in exchange for Rowdy Tellez. At the time, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had already cemented his spot as the everyday starter at first base. In addition, the Jays usually utilized the DH spot as a rotation for everyday players that were having a day off in the field. Because Tellez’s main playing positions were also first base and DH, it appeared that he wasn’t going to get a lot of playing time. As a result, he was deemed expendable in their desperate need for bullpen help.

The trade initially was a win-win for both parties, as Tellez went on to provide valuable production in the heart of the Brewers’ lineup and Richards had a fine year with the Jays after the trade. Richards ended up providing the much needed stability to the bullpen, together with Adam Cimber, who was also acquired from the Miami Marlins for the same reason.

However, when including performances from both the 2022 and 2023 seasons, the Jays probably wished that they could have a do-over for the trade. For Tellez, in his two-plus seasons thus far with the Brewers, his stats line appears as follows:

240 games played, 105 R, 183 H, 51 HR, 139 RBI, 90 BB, 183 K, .234 AVG, .790 OPS, 119 OPS+, 1.5 WAR

If averaging it out over a single season, his production comes out to 71 runs scored, 124 hits, 34 HR, 94 RBI, 61 walks and 124 strikeouts. With that strong production, Tellez is a trusted contributor on the Brewers, as he is utilized mainly in the heart of the order in the lineup, and in particular the cleanup spot currently this year.

Added to the fact that he is a lefty bat, he would certainly look great in the Jays’ current lineup as Brandon Belt, who was signed this past offseason to occupy primarily the DH spot in the lineup (the spot Tellez would have most likely been utilized if he was still with the team), had been struggling mightily to start the season until his recent two-game outburst.

On the other hand, Richards would go on to have a miserable 2022 season, followed by an up and down, inconsistent start to the 2023 season thus far. His cumulative stats in his two-plus seasons with the Jays are:

105 games played, 7-4 W-L, 4.53 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 109.1 IP, 85 H, 55 ER, 52 BB, 139 K, 90 ERA+, 0 WAR

Unlike Tellez, who had provided consistent production for the Brewers, it was harder to predict what version of Richards one would get each time he made an appearance for the Jays. The calm stability that he provided when he first joined the team has more or less vanished in the past season. Even in 2023, he was varying between stretches of good and bad outings. In addition, he was no longer trusted in high leverage situations and have been used more sparingly than before.

With Nate Pearson recently promoted from the minors and performing admirably, and the subsequent activation of Adam Cimber and Mitch White in the coming weeks off the IL, it is uncertain if Richards will still have a role with the Jays in the near future if he doesn’t start to prove soon that he belongs.

What this deal ultimately comes down to is whether the best fit for secondary 1B/DH would be Rowdy Tellez or Brandon Belt, who fills the exact same role that Tellez would've on the 2023 Blue Jays. While Belt has been heating up as of late, the production is nowhere close to what Tellez would be putting up.

Nevertheless, history cannot be rewritten unfortunately, but one can still have a glimmer of hope in that Bowden Francis, who has been the forgotten piece that came in the deal along with Richards from the Brewers, turns out to be a gem to make the overall trade much more palatable.