The American League East race is starting to heat up, as the Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, and Baltimore Orioles are all getting hot as we roll into that time of the year when wins really count for something. That is certain to make things interesting, not just in the standings, but also as the trade market takes shape in the next four days.
That hardly comes as a surprise either. All three clubs have struggled to find consistency on the season, and all three have obvious holes to fill. Unfortunately they all seem to have the same needs to address, which means they’ll be competing for the same pieces as the deadline draws near.
The Blue Jays are said to be in the market for a reliever or two to address an oddly unproductive bullpen. They will also be dipping their toes into the starter and hitters markets, seeing if there are any available upgrades that could be had without crippling the farm system or bringing in too much money on the back end.
The Yankees have already addressed needs in both the rotation and offense when they went out and got Brandon McCarthy and Chase Headley respectively. Still, they trying to add another starter and want to further upgrade an offense that has put together a -27 run differential to date.
Meanwhile, the Orioles are still looking at available starters, despite having a relatively decent rotation. They are also in the relief market, looking for a lefty reliever to help pave the way for Zach Britton. Offensively, they’d love to find an upgrade at second base to displace Jonathan Schoop and his .214/.253/.329 slash.
Now onto the trade candidates:
The Yankees and Orioles are both said to be in the mix for the Rockies “ace” and he’d be a solid piece to add for either team. While he is sporting an uncharacteristically high 4.19 ERA, he is producing a 53% groundball rate, which will be a big boon to an AL East team. That all said, the Rockies are said to be asking for Kevin Gausman from the Orioles, according to Jon Heyman, a price the Orioles aren’t likely to pay for a 2+ month rental. Likewise, the Yankees don’t have a matching piece of that caliber either.
Another groundball specialist (42.3%), Kennedy is another arm that the Orioles and Yankees are both looking at, and one would argue that the Blue Jays should consider as well. If his 3.66 ERA seems a bit odd for Petco Park, it is, as Kennedy sports a very nice 3.11 FIP and 3.28 SIERA as well. That said, the Rockies aren’t likely to part with Kennedy, and his one more year of arbitration control, for the same pittance they moved Headley for.
The former a Philly, the latter a D-Back, they represent the two best left-handed relievers on the market, and it is a very competitive market for their talents. Bastardo is known to be available, while the Diamondbacks are playing coy with Perez, likely trying to drive up his trade value. Both the Blue Jays and Orioles have distinct needs for relief help, and the Jays are said to have watched Bastardo recently. Who wins the race here though and how much does it cost them?
Both Denorfia and Stubbs are being heavily scouted by multiple teams, including the Blue Jays, Mariners, and the Yankees should be involved with both as well, as they look for a platoon partner for Ichiro Suzuki. The key will be cost, as they both project out as platoon partners or fourth outfielders, something the Blue Jays could really use. Neither will break the bank, but neither demands a sizable package to return to San Diego or Colorado respectively either.
Needless to say, teams will take note of the similar desires of all three teams and will undoubtedly play them off each other. It adds another twist of flavor to the playoff push as well, as those teams bold enough to make a splash may be the ones that find a way to push through the traffic jam and into the postseason.