Kevin Gausman Rumors: 5 Best Trade Fits at the Deadline

If the Blue Jays decide to sell at this year's deadline, Kevin Gausman could become one of the most intriguing trade targets on the market.

Kevin Gausman #34 of the Toronto Blue Jays walks to the dugout with pitching coach Pete Walker before playing the Boston Red Sox in their MLB game at the Rogers Centre.
TORONTO, ON - APRIL 27: Kevin Gausman #34 of the Toronto Blue Jays walks to the dugout with pitching coach Pete Walker before playing the Boston Red Sox in their MLB game at the Rogers Centre on April 27, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)

Even if the Toronto Blue Jays don’t ultimately trade first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. or shortstop Bo Bichette, there’s still plenty of intriguing pieces on their roster that would be coveted if general manager Ross Atkins chooses to sell before the July 30 trade deadline.

Near the top of that list is RHP Kevin Gausman, although evaluating the two-time All-Star and determining how much he’s worth giving up to acquire probably won’t be an easy task.

After allowing seven runs over 4 1/3 innings pitched against the New York Yankees in his most recent start, Gausman’s ERA on the season has spiked to 4.75.

What’s particularly concerning is that Gausman’s fastball value has dipped from 17.6 a year ago to -5.0 this season, per Statcast. Mind you, he’s used the fastball 52.6% of the time this season, so for him to be effective, that pitch can’t be getting hammered.

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At the same time, from 2021 to 2023, the only pitcher who posted a higher fWAR than Gausman’s 15.8 was Zack Wheeler. Coming into the season, Gausman’s five-year, $110 million deal — which he signed before the 2022 season — looked like a bargain.

If the Blue Jays make him available, there’s going to be at least a few suitors who convince themselves they can get Gausman’s fastball back on track and end up with an ace who is signed through the 2026 season.

With that in mind, here are five potential trade landing spots for the 33-year-old righty.

Houston Astros

Astros general manager Dana Brown has insisted all year that his team will be buyers, not sellers in advance of the July 30 trade deadline.

Given that Houston is within five games of the Seattle Mariners in the AL West, that strategy makes sense, though it is fair to wonder if Houston will be more inclined to trade for players who can help them both in 2024 and beyond.

Gausman fits that profile, as he would join Ronel Blanco and Framber Valdez in a rotation that’s still hopeful to return to the postseason for the eighth consecutive season.

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At the same time, if the Astros trade for Gausman and ultimately miss the playoffs in 2024, they would still have the righty under contract for two more years.

Future control of Gausman would make him particularly attractive to the Astros.

Justin Verlander can become a free agent after the season, while Valdez can after 2025. With both José Urquidy and Cristian Javier recently undergoing Tommy John surgery, they’ll likely miss at least the first half of the 2025 season.

So trading for a front-line pitcher like Gausman, assuming the Astros still view him as that, would be a wise investment both in the short and long-term.

Atlanta Braves

Gausman previously spent parts of two seasons with the Braves, posting a 4.77 ERA across 26 starts between the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Would the Braves bring Gausman back for a second go-round, knowing that he’s become a much better pitcher since departing?

That strategy has worked out pretty well with Charlie Morton.

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Ace Spencer Strider was lost for the season after undergoing an internal brace procedure on his pitching elbow in April. Without Strider, the Braves still have a strong rotation trio with Chris Sale, Max Fried and Reynaldo López. However, there are durability questions with all three pitchers, and the Braves would probably like a right-handed pitcher to break up Sale and Fried in a postseason series.

Additionally, Gausman being under contract beyond this season would give the Braves an insurance option if Fried departs in free agency next winter. The aforementioned Morton, 40, may very well retire after this season, so Gausman could slide right into the veteran right-hander role in Brian Snitker’s rotation if reacquired.

Los Angeles Dodgers

It’s difficult to know what to make of the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Tyler Glasnow, Bobby Miller and James Paxton are anything but certain to stay healthy, while Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw and Dustin May are on the injured list.

(That doesn’t even mention Tony Gonsolin and Emmet Sheehan, who have been lost for the season.)

Is there a scenario where the Dodgers trade for a pitcher like Gausman and end up with too many starting pitchers once some of their staff gets healthy?

Sure, but that would be preferable to their current situation, where it’s difficult to know who would get the ball behind Glasnow in a postseason series, assuming he makes it there healthy.

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Maybe the Dodgers are more likely to go with a rental and use their major resources to acquire a middle infielder and/or starting outfielder. But with their entire starting rotation in flux and uncertain futures in Los Angeles for Kershaw, Buehler and Paxton beyond this season, trading for Gausman and worrying about the rest around him later might make some sense.

And you know the Dodgers organization would relish the challenge of trying to figure out why Gausman’s results have dipped so much in 2024.

St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals are another team that are still in the postseason race, largely because both the NL Central and NL as a whole are pretty weak this year. Gausman would represent the Cardinals buying in 2024, but also putting a down payment on their rotation for 2025 and 2026.

Believe it or not, Gausman would actually be pretty young for St. Louis’ starting rotation. Sonny Gray (34), Miles Mikolas (35) and Steven Matz (33) are all under contract for 2025.

However, the Cardinals have an $11 million club option on Lance Lynn for his age-38 season, and a $12 million club option for 2025 on Kyle Gibson, who will turn 37 in October. Both Lynn and Gibson have pitched well for the Cardinals this year, but it’s fair to wonder how many times you want to go back to that well.

What the Cardinals could do is trade for Gausman, who is due $23 million in 2025, and then decide to keep only one of Lynn and Gibson for next season. It would be a more expensive route than just bringing back Lynn and Gibson for 2025, but the upside is much higher with Gausman, particularly as the aforementioned duo each begin to push 40 years old.

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Milwaukee Brewers

With a veteran lineup and a bullpen that could be the best in baseball once they get Devin Williams back in the second half, two-thirds of the Brewers roster is built to win right now. The problem is, their rotation is sagging behind, and it’s the biggest reason Milwaukee hasn’t been talked about in the same breath as the Dodgers, Braves and Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series discussion.

Freddy Peralta has been good, not great as the ace following the February trade of former NL Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes. Brandon Woodruff is out for the season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.

Colin Rea is having a career year, while rookie Tobias Myers has impressed. But this is a team that probably needs to add multiple starters just to win the NL Central, let alone have a chance to do damage in October.

Gausman would be the No. 2 starter in a postseason series for the Brewers, assuming he doesn’t push Peralta out of the top spot. He would also set the Brewers up to have an excellent trio atop their rotation in 2024 when Woodruff returns.

Whether a lower-budget Brewers team will view Gausman as cost-effective or not is unclear, but from a baseball sense they make as much sense as any team on this list.