Trade Central: Blue Jays Add To Bullpen, Brewers Acquire Rowdy Tellez
The Blue Jays needed to reinforce their bullpen. The Brewers needed someone to play first base. With just under a month before the trade deadline, the two teams struck a deal to fill each other's needs.
The Blue Jays traded first baseman Rowdy Tellez to the Brewers in exchange for righthanded reliever Trevor Richards and pitching prospect Bowden Francis on Tuesday. It is the second deal the Blue Jays have made for a reliever in the last week after they acquired Adam Cimber and outfielder Corey Dickerson from the Marlins on June 29.
Richards joins a Blue Jays staff that needed arms with seven relievers currently on the injured list. Tellez gives the Brewers needed depth at first base with Daniel Vogelbach and Travis Shaw both on the injured list behind Keston Hiura.
BLUE JAYS ACQUIRE
Trevor Richards, RHP
Richards has now been traded twice in the last six weeks. The Rays traded him to the Brewers on June 21 with shortstop Willy Adames, and now he's on the move again. A starter up until last season, Richards settled into relief with the Brewers and posted a 3.20 ERA in 15 appearances, most of them low leverage. Batters have a difficult time squaring up his 92-93 mph fastball due to its above-average vertical movement, and his changeup is a putaway pitch that gets lots of swings and misses. Richards' control has been shaky at times this year, but he's still been successful. He will slot right into the Blue Jays bullpen and has a chance to pitch in high-leverage relief as needed.
Bowden Francis, RHP
A seventh-round pick out of Chipola (Fla.) JC in 2017, Francis was not invited to the alternate training site last year and did not rank among the Brewers' Top 30 prospects entering the season. Despite the lack of pedigree, he was one of the biggest risers in their system this year, jumping quickly from Double-A to Triple-A and going 7-3, 3.62 with 65 strikeouts and 17 walks in 59.2 innings. Francis' fastball sits 90-93 mph and he commands it extremely well and to quickly get ahead of hitters. His low-80s slider is an effective pitch that draws swings and misses and weak contact and he'll mix in a low-70s curveball to slow hitters down and disrupt their timing. He doesn't use his changeup often, but when he does it gets swings and misses from lefties. Francis' ability to command his fastball, mix in three secondaries and throw everything for strikes have made him effective. He'll serve as valuable starting pitching depth for the Blue Jays and has a chance to make his major league debut this season.
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Rowdy Tellez, 1B
Tellez spent time as the Blue Jays' first baseman/DH the last four seasons but found himself squeezed out of playing time by the emergence of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at first base and the Blue Jays plentiful options at DH. Tellez has plenty of power but struggles to get to it consistently. The lefthanded-hitting Tellez is a reverse-splits hitter who hits lefties better than righties, which pairs well with the righthanded Keston Hiura, who is also a reverse-splits hitter and fares better against righties than lefties. Hiura has been better in his most recent callup from Triple-A, batting .244/.360/.488 in 12 games, but in case he starts struggling again, Tellez gives the Brewers an experienced fallback option.