Much to the surprise of many MLB fans, the Toronto Blue Jays are firmly in the playoff mix in the American League in 2021.
As of Monday, just 2.5 games separate the Blue Jays and the Oakland Athletics for that all-important second Wild Card spot.
But if Toronto is serious about cracking the postseason, the club is going to need to address some concerns at the upcoming trade deadline.
Today, we’re going to take a look at two trade targets who could change the trajectory of the season for the Blue Jays.
You’re likely going to notice a theme throughout this article.
Both players on this list are relief pitchers, and both players are under contract beyond the 2022 season.
That’s the ideal trade candidate for this Blue Jays club.
They desperately need to add some relief help, but they presumably want to do it without going all-in on 2021.
That’s why the contract element is key.
After all, they’re way ahead of schedule this year, and their window to win is just now opening.
There’s no reason to act like the 2021 season is an all-or-nothing deal.
The goal should be to add bullpen arms that can be key pieces beyond merely this season.
2. Taylor Rogers
Minnesota Twins lefty Taylor Rogers was named an All-Star this season for the first time in his career, and his reward might be a trade to a contending team.
— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) July 13, 2021
Perhaps the Blue Jays could be that team.
This season, Rogers has a 3.52 ERA, 2.23 FIP, 1.15 WHIP and has fanned 56 batters in 38.1 innings.
For his six-year career, he has a 3.17 ERA, 3.02 FIP, and 1.15 WHIP.
He is a proven bullpen arm, and he would be a massive addition for Toronto.
Rogers is under contract through the 2022 season, so he would be a part of next year’s team, too.
1. Richard Rodriguez
The Pittsburgh Pirates are going to be in no position to contend any time soon, and as a result, we could see Richard Rodriguez traded at this year’s deadline.
Rodriguez is locked up through the 2023 season, so he might come at a high price, but he would be an outstanding piece to the puzzle for Toronto.
Can the @BlueJays please trade for Richard Rodríguez? He is really good and we need bullpen help.
— Pierce (Otter enthusiast) 🏳️🌈🎗🥕 (@PalmerForHC) June 15, 2021
Rodriguez is working on a 2.65 ERA this season over 36 appearances.
He also has a 157 ERA+, 2.61 FIP, and 0.80 WHIP.
Opponents are batting just .193 with a .503 OPS against the righty.
He will probably be one of the most sought-after relievers on the trade market this season, and it will be interesting to see how many teams show interest in the 31-year-old.
One thing is for sure: The Blue Jays would welcome him with open arms.
No matter what, Toronto is going to walk away from the 2021 season feeling good about its future.
It has become incredibly clear this season that the Blue Jays are going to be good for a very long time.
Having said that, it wouldn’t hurt to give this 2021 club a legitimate chance at making a playoff run.
Adding some bullpen arms—ideally guys who are locked up for multiple seasons—would be a good move for both the present and the future.