Ranking the Blue Jays’ most impactful mid-season moves of 2021

·8 min read
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 07: Joakim Soria #28 of the Toronto Blue Jays in action during a game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on September 7, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
The Blue Jays' roster looks an awful lot different than it did at the start of the season. (Getty)

It's the nature of the game. Players come and go before, during and after the 162-game grind of an MLB season.

The current Toronto Blue Jays roster, for example, looks very different than when the season started.

Here's a look at the team's most notable mid-season moves, ranked from worst to best.

9. Brad Hand

To say that this trade was a total fiasco may be too harsh. But it definitely had fiasco-like qualities.

In an attempt to address a key area of concern in the bullpen, the Blue Jays sent catching prospect Riley Adams to the Washington Nationals in exchange for once-reliable Brad Hand. The left-hander — who signed a $10.5-million deal with Washington in the offseason — made 11 appearances with Toronto, posted a 7.27 ERA and allowed three homers over 8.2 innings.

The 31-year-old was designated for assignment on August 31, just one month after being acquired by the Blue Jays, and claimed by the New York Mets a few days later.

Adams, on the other hand, has since made 24 appearances with the Nationals in the majors, posting a .324 batting average, two homers, eight RBIs and a .969 OPS.


8. Carl Edwards Jr.

Sure, this was a low-risk pick-up. But it still falls under the "bad deal" category.

In Carl Edwards Jr., the Blue Jays could have gotten a seasoned reliever with World Series reps and great strikeout potential. That paired with a minor-league deal made it seem like a no-brainer.

Of course, things didn’t turn out that well.

A couple of years removed from his glory days with the Chicago Cubs, Edwards Jr. started 2021 with the Atlanta Braves, but was DFA’d after 0.1 innings, in which he allowed three runs, including a homer. The right-hander proceeded to record a 6.75 ERA over 5.1 innings with Toronto before hitting the 60-day IL with an oblique strain in June.

Rather than clear a 40-man roster spot for Edwards Jr. to come back in mid-August, the team released the 30-year-old, who then signed a minor-league deal with the Chicago White Sox.

7. Jake Lamb

Injuries to Cavan Biggio and Santiago Espinal left the Blue Jays with few options at third base.

Utilityman Jake Lamb is currently sharing time in the hot corner with Breyvic Valera and Kevin Smith and has also seen time at first whenever Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is the designated hitter. The 30-year-old Lamb was claimed off waivers from the White Sox on Sep. 3.

A left-handed batter, Lamb has made five appearances with Toronto, batting in a single run. He has yet to collect his first hit as a Blue Jay.

6. Jarrod Dyson

He won’t be an above-average hitter — heck, he’s not even an average one right now — but Jarrod Dyson shows his value with his defence and his speed.

The Blue Jays claimed Dyson off waivers late in August from the Kansas City Royals, where the veteran outfielder earned a World Series ring of his own in 2015.

At 37 years old, Dyson is no one’s idea of a star outfielder — especially when you’re faced with his .220 average and .629 OPS. But he has proven effective as a pinch runner and occasional centre fielder for the Jays.

5. Joakim Soria

A two-time All-Star, Soria’s heyday also happened with the Royals. The 37-year-old finished 10th in Cy Young voting and 19th in AL MVP ballots in 2010, posting unbelievable strikeout rates and a 1.78 ERA.

Soria bounced around from team to team after 2011, eventually landing on the Arizona Diamondbacks on a one-year, $3.5-million deal in 2021. The righty was then sent to the Blue Jays at the deadline in exchange for minor-leaguers J.J. D’Orazio and Yaifer Perdomo.

In yet another attempt to address bullpen issues, Toronto got a veteran reliever with tons of experience and a wide array of pitches for two low-level prospects.

Though Soria has seen his ERA and home-run numbers balloon over the years, his strikeout rate is still impressive. He landed on the 10-day IL with a finger inflammation just four outings into his Jays tenure and has been somewhat streaky since.

Soria has a 4.84 ERA in 2021 — 7.50 in Toronto. But there’s still time to turn it around.

4. Corey Dickerson

The Blue Jays sent Joe Panik and minor-leaguer Andrew McInvale to the Miami Marlins at the end of June for outfielder Corey Dickerson and reliever Adam Cimber (more on him in a sec).

Dickerson is a former All-Star and Gold Glover who arrived in Toronto still in a walking boot and in the midst of an IL stint with a foot injury. The 32-year-old was having a pedestrian season with the Marlins and took on a part-time outfielder role on the Jays.

His real value, however, was his left-handed bat. While the Blue Jays have several hitters vying for at-bats in the outfield and at DH, the overwhelming majority of those hitters are right-handed.

Dickerson has appeared in 30 games with the Blue Jays since the trade, sporting a decent .267 average and .753 OPS with three home runs and 12 RBIs since then. He’ll become a free agent after this season, when the two-year, $17.5-million contract he signed with the Marlins ends.

3. Adam Cimber

Known for his one-of-a-kind delivery, Cimber arrived in Toronto along with Dickerson in the Panik trade.

A ninth-round pick in 2013, the 31-year-old pitched for San Diego and Cleveland before joining the Marlins in the offseason. Since being traded to Toronto, Cimber has sported a 1.69 ERA over 26.2 innings, surrendering a single home run and four walks while striking out 25 batters.

The righty's sidearm delivery is one of the most intriguing pitching mechanics in baseball. Cimber has earned the trust of Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo and appears to fit in well within the team's relief corps.

Seeing how well Toronto's bullpen has fared over August and September, Cimber was certainly worth the price.

2. Trevor Richards

Though based on performance alone we could easily swap Nos. 3 and 2 on this list, Trevor Richards's service time and price tag are what tips the scales.

Richards has three more years of arbitration eligibility and won't become a free agent until 2025, while Cimber is set to be a UFA in 2024, according to Spotrac. Richards will enter his first year of arbitration after this season, and though he figures to get a nice bump in his current $580,900 salary, it's unlikely that he'll make north of Cimber's current $900,000.

Toronto got Richards and fellow right-hander Bowden Francis from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Rowdy Tellez. While the 26-year-old Francis is posting ok numbers in triple-A Buffalo, Richards has emerged as one of the Blue Jays' most reliable bullpen arms.

At 28, Richards has pitched 24.2 innings in relief since joining the Jays. He has a 2.92 ERA with the club, striking out 31 batters while allowing just seven walks. He has also seen some high-leverage innings and has carved out a leadership role upon joining Toronto.

The right-hander may have been the Blue Jays' most successful attempt at stabilizing a shaky bullpen.

1. José Berríos

For a moment there, this trade looked like a huge mistake. But that moment's gone.

Berríos dominated his first two starts with Toronto, but fell into a funk after that. Struggling with mechanics and unable to find the strike zone, the righty allowed 12 earned runs over three starts in mid-August. That was when the thought of giving up prized prospect Austin Martin and young pitcher Simeon Woods Richardson to the Minnesota Twins for Berríos started to sound as good as investing in a pager business.

Then, he tweaked his delivery, got back to basics, and transformed himself into one of the biggest reasons for the Blue Jays' recent success. In three starts since that bad stretch, the 27-year-old has posted a 2.21 ERA with a whopping 11.5 strikeouts-per-nine rate, including an 11-strikeout outing against the Detroit Tigers.

Berríos is arbitration eligible through one more season before entering free agency in 2023. He also comes with some welcome playoff experience, including a wild-card start in 2017.

He ended up with a loss on that occasion, but we don't need to talk about that.

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