Welcome back, Jesse Chavez.
It turns out one Blue Jay making his second tour with the Blue Jays was dealt for another. Interim GM Tony LaCava has made the first trade of the Jays offseason sending Liam Hendriks to the Oakland Athletics for Jesse Chavez.
At first glance, this might seem like a puzzling move; Liam Hendriks was a decent reliever and the Jays’ bullpen needed as many arms as possible. It turns out Toronto’s immediate need for a starting pitcher like Jesse Chavez far outweighed the need for middle relief.
The Blue Jays aren’t getting an ace in return by any means, but in Jesse Chavez, they are getting a mid-to-back end starting pitcher in return. Chavez’ return may conjure up those bad memories of his dreadful days with the Jays in 2012, but by all indications, he isn’t that pitcher anymore.
At the very least, Chavez should be penciled in for around 20 starts and something around 150 innings. That’s really what this trade is all about; innings. The Blue Jays are subtracting innings from the bullpen but adding more innings to the starting rotation.
It was fun to see Liam Hendriks reborn as a reliever with increased velocity, but he was used predominately in low leverage situations. That area of the bullpen seems like the easiest replace, whereas the Blue Jays truly need back-of-the-bullpen arms.
This may not be a trade that moves the needle very much for the Blue Jays right now, but it addresses their need for starting pitching depth in the short term.
It’s funny because this was the atypical trade made by the Blue Jays; normally they’re accustomed to trading for relievers rather than giving them away. To me, anytime you can get a starter for a reliever, it’s a win.
The only thing that irks me about this deal is giving up four years of team control under Liam Hendriks for one of Jesse Chavez. This may just be a bridge solution for the rotation until someone like Roberto Osuna can be effectively stretched back out into a starting pitcher.
Speaking of Roberto Osuna and Aaron Sanchez, their roles with the Blue Jays next year may have factored into the motivation behind this trade in the first place. Would the Jays knowingly trade one of their relievers if they were going to move Osuna or Sanchez into the rotation?
On that same note, if at least one of Osuna or Sanchez were to be converted back into starting pitchers, it would give the Blue Jays six starting pitchers. Even with the acquisition of Jesse Chavez, by no means is work finished on replenishing the rotation, but it’s a start.
As of now, the Blue Jays 2016 starting rotation projects to be Marcus Stroman, Marco Estrada, R.A. Dickey, Jesse Chavez and one of Drew Hutchison, Aaron Sanchez and Roberto Osuna.
Now that I think of it; maybe the Blue Jays feel like they could groom Drew Hutchison to become Liam Hendrik’s replacement in the bullpen? It certainly would be a cost-effective measure; the million dollar question is whether Hutchison could resemble a half-decent reliever.
In the meantime, the Jays now have one less arm in the bullpen but one additional arm for the starting rotation. In just over one week, two spots in the Blue Jays starting rotation have been solidified.
Now all they really need to do is shore up one more.
Image via MLB.com