With latest demotion, has Nate Pearson suddenly become trade chip for the Blue Jays?

The Blue Jays have somewhat surprisingly optioned Nate Pearson to Triple-A Buffalo, which has led to the suggestion the 2017 first round draft pick could be moved at the trade deadline.
Toronto Blue Jays v Minnesota Twins
Toronto Blue Jays v Minnesota Twins / David Berding/GettyImages

Blue Jays fans knew someone would have to make way for the recently acquired Génesis Cabrera, who was added to the active roster on Sunday. However, the majority wouldn't have predicted it would be Nate Pearson who was moved.

That's exactly what has happened however, with Pearson being optioned to Triple-A Buffalo. As per Sportsnet's Arden Zwelling, the official line is he's being given a chance to work on some adjustments away from the Majors, particularly his breaking ball execution.

Admittedly, the 26-year-old has struggled in his last two appearances combined, giving up five hits and six earned runs in 3.0 innings. However, it should be noted he allowed just three hits and no earned runs in his eight outings prior to this, over 9.2 innings.

Further, Pearson seems to have finally found his niche this season, thanks in large part to improved location. While not living up to his original billing as a potential staff ace, he has settled in as one of the Blue Jays' better relievers in what has been an impressive bullpen overall.

So what's going on?

This leads to the question of if something else is afoot. In this respect, Sportsnet's Jeff Blair has his suspicions:

Pearson would certainly offer some quality value in any potential trade, something which the Blue Jays are in desperate need of. He also has three more years of arbitration eligibility, before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2027.

Other factors at play

At the same time, you have to wonder if Blair would have mentioned the righty as a trade candidate if he hadn't been optioned to the Bisons? In this respect, consider who the other candidates were to be moved.

One option was Jay Jackson. As per Zwelling however, the Blue Jays reportedly value what they are getting from him, with the 35-year-old also able to throw multiple innings if required.

Certainly, Jackson has proved himself during his short time in Toronto. He has an outstanding 0.64 ERA and 0.500 WHIP in 14.0 combined innings, spread over 10 appearances.

Why not Mitch White?

The other option, and one who a lot of people assumed would be the one moved, was Mitch White. The righty has, harshly or not, been an absolute disaster so far this year, high/low-lighted by a 7.30 ERA, 4.99 FIP and 1.703 WHIP in 12.1 innings of action. (Nine appearances.)

So why wasn't White the one to give way for Cabrera? One of the main factors is that, unlike Jackson, he has no Minor League options remaining.

Ultimately, when you put everything together, the most likely outcomes is that Pearson will return to the Blue Jays bullpen at some point this season. However, we're not willing to die on this hill (mound); anything is possible when it comes to a team which is having an unpredictable season, to say the least.

NB - All statistics up to and including July 24.