Blue Jays Bullpen Implodes Again; Trade Targets Start to Surface


After starting the season with a feared bullpen, injuries and regression have taken their toll, leaving the Toronto Blue Jays with a relief core that's battered and bruised, after blowing yet another late-game lead. 

Friday night, the Jays' relief corps couldn't hold a 5-1 lead, dropping a 6-5 decision at Fenway Park to the Boston Red Sox. The Toronto bullpen ERA, which was 2.52 in April, has been a disaster in May and June, sitting at 4.78 this month. 

Manager Charlie Montoyo summed it up perfectly: "I don’t know where we go from here. Our guys in the bullpen need to do the job."

There are a number of high-leverage bullpen names starting to surface that should be prime trade targets for the Blue Jays, if they have hopes of staying in contention for a playoff spot. 

The target that probably makes the most sense is free agent-to-be Ian Kennedy of the Texas Rangers. Their season is completely off the rails, as the Rangers are buried in last place in the AL West, with one of the worst records in all of baseball. 

But their closer, Kennedy, has posted 12 saves with a fine 2.53 ERA. Texas has no use for him this season, and he can walk this winter. 

Another arm on the Jays' radar, for the same reasons, would be the Seattle Mariners' Kendall Graveman. Seattle is into a rebuild, and Graveman can also be a free agent at season's end. Hard to argue with his 0.00 ERA this season (no, not a typo), and 29% strikeout rate. 

Graveman has just been activated from the Covid-19 Injured List. 

The Pittsburgh Pirates are another team without much use for a closer. That being said, Richard Rodriguez has been one of baseball's best in that role over the past two seasons, this year with a 1.85 ERA and 0.70 WHIP. 

His price tag would be a bit higher, as the Pirates have two more years of player control. 

As usual, Blue Jays' General Manager Ross Atkins isn't giving away any company secrets, saying "we’ll look to build from within, not just externally.”

But with a bullpen that threatens to blow up a promising season, you can be sure he's working the phones talking trade with the Rangers, Mariners, Pirates, and any other team with a reliable bullpen arm. 

Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports