We are now officially less than a week away from the trade deadline, and I would expect things to start picking up in the world of trade rumors within the next 24 hours or so. In fact, I was fairly surprised that Monday was so quiet around the league. Of course, we still have no idea what this deadline is going to look like. Despite that, we’ve spent the past week or so looking at various potential trade partners for the Red Sox, including the Twins, Padres, Brewers and Indians.
When looking at all of these potential trade partnerships, the theme of the potential match has generally been looking at the outfield or the bullpen, which makes sense. The Red Sox have a couple of outfielders that are set to be free agents that could help contending teams, and even with their pitching woes they have relievers that are quality for postseason clubs, and relievers are always on the table at the trade deadline.
One area where we haven’t really focused has been the rotation because, well, you know the answer. The Red Sox rotation is not exactly the envy of the league. That said, there are one or two pitchers in this rotation that could be intriguing targets for other teams, and one of those teams are the Blue Jays.
Toronto/Buffalo came into this shortened season as one of the most intriguing clubs in all of baseball. Everyone knew there were going to be some unexpected clubs in the playoff picture given both the small sample that comes with a 60-game season and the expanded playoff field. The Blue Jays were a popular pick to make that leap given some additions to their rotation and, more importantly, the young talent up and down their lineup. Sure enough, if the season ended today they would indeed be in the postseason, sitting a half-game up on the even-more-surprising Orioles.
It’s not all happy in Toronto, though, as they have watched their rotation fall apart one by one over the last week or two. Of their idea starting five, they have just Hyun-Jin Ryu and Tanner Roark healthy right now after Nate Pearson, Matt Shoemaker and Trent Thornton all hit the injured list. They do have Chase Anderson to take over one of those spots as well as prospects (or recent prospects) like Anthony Kay and Sean Reid-Foley, but there’s no denying there is some concern about the rapidly declining health in this area.
And with that, it makes sense that they are going to be targeting starting pitching. There were already reports that they were looking at some Pirates starting pitchers, and the Red Sox should get in there as well. I would think Boston may try and move off Nathan Eovaldi’s contract if possible this summer, but I don’t see Toronto taking on a multi-year deal like that to solve this year’s problem. Instead, Martín Pérez would be the player to target.
Pérez has been one of the few positive surprises on the Red Sox so far this season, stepping into that number two starter role and actually putting up results that merit the title. Over his six starts this season he has a 3.45 ERA, and he’s trending up coming off his best start of the season last time out. The lefty is also a veteran who has been around for a long time, something that could be helpful on this kind of Blue Jays team, and has the added bonus of being under control for next season with a team option as well. That gives Toronto a chance to either have him in their rotation for 2021 as well or even flip him over the offseason if they like their in-house options more when healthy.
I’m not entirely sure what Pérez would fetch back in a deal by himself, because for as good as he’s been this year his track record is still mostly very bad and his peripherals don’t really match up with the ERA. The Red Sox could sweeten the pot for Toronto, though, whether that be in the form of bullpen help or outfield help, or both. In the bullpen, the Jays have actually been solid after their closer, Ken Giles, went down with an injury. However, they don’t really have established arms there and that could be scary for a team in a tight stretch run. Matt Barnes has obviously not been himself this year, but he could be worth a shot for a team like the Blue Jays given his experience in the postseason.
In the outfield, meanwhile, the Red Sox have both Kevin Pillar and Jackie Bradley Jr. to dangle in trade talks. Toronto has a solid starting trio in the outfield with Randall Grichuk, Teoscar Hernández and Lourdes Gurriel, but with Derrick Fisher hurt they have very little depth. Pillar is a former Blue Jay and could be a sentimental depth addition, but Bradley would seemingly help more. Even with Fisher healthy, all of their outfield options hit from the right side. Bradley not only provides the obvious defense, but would give them a bat from the left side that can play out on the grass.
Trades within a division aren’t exactly normal, but what about this season is normal? The Red Sox are and should be looking for any and all possible deals before the deadline, and the Blue Jays have multiple needs they can fit. Whether it’s just one of the pieces, with Pérez making the most sense, or a Pérez/Barnes/Bradley package, the Red Sox could get some solid young pieces from a Toronto team looking for a surprise run to October.