At 40-40 and the Major League Baseball trade deadline coming into view, the Toronto Blue Jays face an important crossroads. They could go on another tear and push further into the playoff picture, or they could revert back to their early season form and fall out of the picture all together.
Such is the quandary of a .500 team.
So with the aforementioned trade deadline looming in a month, Alex Anthopoulos has a tough decision to make; should he make a move to help the current iteration of the Blue Jays?
Let’s play the part of the optimistic fan and assume that the Blue Jays will continue to play better baseball, and hence need to make a move in order to finish the push to the postseason. To do so, Toronto will need to add a pitcher of some sort to improve a rotation that will be without J.A. Happ and Brandon Morrow for an extended period of time, making them rely on Esmil Rogers and Chien-Ming Wang in the rotation.
Now don’t get me wrong, Rogers has been phenomenal since converting back to a starter and Wang has been, well, serviceable. However, Toronto will want to upgrade at least one of those arms should they want to make a real play at the playoffs.
With that said, there are a few quality arms available on the market that the Blue Jays could pursue. It just comes down to what kind of commitment Toronto wants to make to the 2013 season, and how much more they could sacrifice in the name of this season.
The Cubs ace would have been traded a season ago if not for a season-ending injury before Chicago could pull the trigger. After a rough return in 2013, the 29-year-old right-hander has come on of late and has turned quite a few heads. He currently sports a 3-1 record with a 3.83 ERA and an 8.6 K/9 ratio. Garza also has success in the past in the AL East, while pitching with the Rays. That said, he will not come cheaply, especially with the Cubs in full rebuilding mode, but that hasn’t stopped the Blue Jays from scouting him either. With Garza set to become a free agent after the season, does Toronto want to give up another bevy of prospects for another short-term rental (Josh Johnson).
The Blue Jays have not yet been mentioned in any rumors surrounding Nolasco, perhaps due to his prominent connection to both the Dodgers and the Padres. It could also be that despite pitching for the Marlins over the last 8 seasons, Nolasco has recorded just one significant season, going 15-8 with a 3.52 ERA in 2008. That hasn’t stopped teams from throwing his name around and it won’t stop one from overpaying for his services either. However, the Blue Jays aren’t quite likely to be that team.
Signed through 2014 with a team option for 2015, Gallardo seems like a much more realistic option for the Blue Jays, as he’d have value to the team after the 2013 season as well. He’s represents an interesting risk for teams to take, with a drop in velocity having its say in what has been a more disappointing season for Gallardo. However, he’s been stellar over his last five starts, posting a 2.32 ERA in the process. With a solid track record and two more years on control-ability, he could cost a bit more than some of the names being bantered about, but Gallardo could also hold more value than those other names as well. Of course, Gallardo also has the Blue Jays on his 10-team No Trade List. Those are usually just a formality in order to drive an extension should he be traded, but it is still significant obstacle that could stand in the way as well.
Again, this is all predicated on Toronto staying in the hunt and deeming the 2013 salvageable. That could come down to the team taking a leap of faith and making one last move in order to assure it.
The only question is if the team and the fans have one last leap of faith remaining in them.