Toronto Blue Jays: Timing of Ken Giles’ return could be crucial

Ken Giles #51 of the Toronto Blue Jays. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
Ken Giles #51 of the Toronto Blue Jays. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /

When Ken Giles returns from a flexor strain could be important for the Toronto Blue Jays, but not for the reason you might think.

Not a lot went right for the Toronto Blue Jays last year, as they stumbled their way to a 67-95 record and fourth place in the AL East. Rebuild or not, it still made for painful watching for the fans. (Although you know they would still prefer this to not being able to attend games, as per the current situation.)

One of the few bright spots during the 2019 season, was the form of Ken Giles. Acquired as part of the trade which sent Roberto Osuna to the Houston Astros, he had an excellent campaign.

Giles was clutch when called upon last year, with 23 saves in 24 opportunities. He had an outstanding 1.87 ERA and his lowest WHIP (1.000) since his rookie season in 2014.

As such, when the 29-year-old went down with a right flexor strain in just his second appearance of the 2020 campaign, there was a lot of frustration for everyone concerned. This quickly turned to questions about when he would be likely to return to the mound.

As per Sportsnet‘s Hazel Mae, the latest news indicates the Blue Jays’ were extremely encouraged by Giles’ MRI results last Friday. He also threw from a distance of 90 feet on Saturday and reportedly felt good.

The hope now is that Giles will be ready to resume throwing off a mound in around 10 days. Questions remain though, as to when he will actually return to action, which could prove crucial.

However, the reason for wanting the Albuquerque, New Mexico native back as soon as possible is not necessarily for the reason you might think. Consider that Anthony Bass has been in fine form as the Blue Jays’ main closer, with three saves in four opportunities.

No, as much as Giles would provide a boost to the bullpen, the Blue Jays also have to consider the possibility of trading him. He is in the last year of his current contract and there is no guarantee they will be able to re-sign him, or that he will even want to return to Toronto.

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With this in mind, the Blue Jays may attempt to get something for the 2011 seventh round draft pick, rather than lose him for nothing. Certainly, you would think they can get some value in return considering his resume, which includes 115 career saves and winning a World Series ring in 2017.

The challenge the Blue Jays have though, is the MLB trade deadline of Aug. 31. Giles needs to be back pitching to prove his health, otherwise it will be tough persuading another team to take a risk, no matter how impressive his resume is.

In this respect, it seems highly unlikely Giles will be back in time, especially if he isn’t even going to resume throwing from a mound until around Aug. 25. As such, the Blue Jays’ options seem limited.

If the team does still attempt to trade the former Philadelphia Phillie, they may have to accept a lesser package, in order to at least get something for a player still recovering from injury at this stage. The other option is to just keep him and attempt to start renegotiating a new deal before his current one expires.

From our perspective, we believe the Blue Jays should attempt to agree a new deal with Giles, as you can never have enough good arms. However, we appreciate this will be easier said than done, given he is making $9.6 million this year and will arguably ask for more. (Even with the ongoing COVID-19 situation, he should still be in demand on the open market.)

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How important do you think Giles has been, since being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays? Would you like to see him return, or do you have enough confidence in the likes of Bass to take on the closer role? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.