The Blue Jays picked up another victory Monday, defeating the Rays by a 6-4 count to improve to 14-13 at almost the halfway point of the season. Few expected the Blue Jays to push for a playoff spot this season, but they’re a mere two games back of wild-card position in the American League. With the trade deadline just a week away, Toronto could wind up as a buyer. Indeed, general manager Ross Atkins said last week that the Jays are aiming to improve their rotation, and Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that the team’s “considering” a pair of Pirates right-handers in Trevor Williams and Chad Kuhl.
Toronto’s rotation has taken multiple hits in recent days, as Nate Pearson, Matt Shoemaker and Trent Thornton have gone on the injured list. As a result, Hyun Jin Ryu, Tanner Roark and Chase Anderson are the only sure things in the club’s rotation, though Ryu’s the lone member of the trio who has offered a blend of strong bottom-line production and encouraging peripherals so far this season.
In Williams or Kuhl, the Blue Jays would land a hurler capable of contributing to their rotation beyond this season. Both are controllable for multiple years, but Williams is the more proven of the pair. The 28-year-old was a solid starter for the Pirates from 2017-18 before falling off last year, when he logged 145 2/3 innings of 5.38 ERA/5.12 FIP ball, but seems to be amid a rebound campaign. Williams has made five starts in 2020 and posted 24 1/3 innings of 3.70 ERA/4.21 FIP ball with 8.51 K/9 and 2.96 BB/9. He’s on a prorated $2.825MM salary this year and has another two arbitration-eligible seasons remaining.
Kuhl also has two arb years left after 2020, though he’s currently earning a less expensive salary than Williams (a prorated $840K). The 27-year-old is off to a decent start this season after missing all of 2019 as a result of Tommy John surgery. Kuhl has made five appearances (three starts) in the early going, averaged upward of 94 mph on his fastball and registered a 2.84 ERA/4.98 FIP with 9.0 K/9 and 3.32 BB/9 over 19 innings.
Neither Williams nor Kuhl would command a haul for the Pirates, who are well out of playoff contention. As Morosi notes, though, the Blue Jays could make for a logical trade partner because of the familiarity first-year Bucs general manager Ben Cherington has with Toronto’s farm system. Before taking over the Pirates, Cherington was a promiment part of the Jays’ front office.