The Jays finally made a move to upgrade their pitching, bringing in reliever LaTroy Hawkins from the Rockies, in exchange for Jose Reyes, Miguel Castro, Jeff Hoffman, and Jesus Tinoco.
Hawkins is a 42 year old righthander who throws a fastball (~93mph), slider and changeup. He profiles as a guy who keeps the ball on the ground and doesn’t walk many hitters, and he’s actually improved his strikeout rate (to about 8 per 9 innings) this year as well. Hawkins is equally effective against both righthanded and lefthanded hitters. All that makes him a decent option to pitch in the 7th or 8th inning, sharing those innings with Aaron Sanchez and Brett Cecil, and helpfully pushing Aaron Loup into lower-leverage appearances. Plus, he has closing experience (if needed) from as recently as 2014, and is said to be a great, positive guy to have in the clubhouse (if that matters to you).
I like the move, frankly. Hawkins doesn’t cost much, and he makes the bullpen deeper, meaning the team will have less need to rely on Tepera and Loup in crucial situations. Having a veteran presence in the bullpen probably can’t hurt, either.
Giving up Castro and Hoffman does hurt a bit. Hoffman has front-of-the-rotation potential, and Castro, while he may not ever become a starter, has the stuff to be an elite reliever – we saw flashes of that in April. Getting out of Reyes’s contract is, on balance, a good thing – Jose Reyes has been unfairly maligned despite his being the best shortstop the team has had since Tony Fernandez, but he’s probably not worth $48MM over the next 2 seasons, or $66MM over the next 3. And the thing with pitching prospects is that they’re prospects, and they fail all the time. Maybe Jeff Hoffman turns into another Noah Syndergaard, but more likely, he doesn’t. What is pretty certain is that LaTroy Hawkins is a good bullpen piece, and the Jays have some much-needed pitching help for the stretch run.