Trade Rumors: Blue Jays interested in Indians’ Justin Masterson before trade to Cardinals


It has been a relatively quiet day for the Toronto Blue Jays as the Major League Baseball trade deadline approaches. While that has lead some to doubt that the Blue Jays will be very active at the deadline, the silence doesn’t necessarily firm up that belief either.

Take for instance this little tidbit that Jayson Stark of ESPN just dropped on his latest Rumbling and Grumblings, noting that the Blue Jays were in on Justin Masterson as late as Tuesday night.

"Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos turned up in Buffalo on Tuesday to watch left-hander Sean Nolin pitch. As did an Indians scout. Cleveland had talked to Toronto about Masterson before deadling him to St. Louis, for what it’s worth."

Well, it certainly isn’t much, especially considering that the Cleveland Indians just traded Masterson to the St. Louis Cardinals for outfield prospect James Ramsey. Granted, James Ramsey is a much better long-term prospect than Sean Nolin appears to be at this stage, and fills a bigger need for the Indians, but it also amounts to another report where the Blue Jays were unwilling to pull the trigger on a deal.

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The addition of Masterson would have been an interesting one for the Blue Jays. At 4-6 with a 5.51 ERA and declining velocity, Masterson would appear to be a buy-low candidate, except for the fact that he is in his walk year. However, there is growing discussion that his recent knee ailment was the likely culprit behind the velocity drop and mediocre performance. His 4.08 FIP, 58.5% ground-ball rate, and 4.06 SIERA all foretell a pitcher that should rebound if healthy.

As we’ve said in the past, the Blue Jays could use a strong ground-ball pitcher, especially heading into the stretch run. However, the rental cost for Masterson appeared to be pretty high, netting the Cardinals #8 prospect in a very deep system.

That all said, the Indians were one of many teams in attendance in Buffalo last night to see Nolin pitch, indicating that the Blue Jays are likely using him in trade talks. For his case, Nolin didn’t disappoint either, throwing 6 strong innings while allowing just 2 hits, walking 1 and striking out 3 in the outing. Nolin could actually be the most expendable of the Blue Jays pitching prospects, but it isn’t really noted about how much value he’d carry in a deal and he’s unlikely to sway people away from the Daniel Norris, Dalton Pompey, or Aaron Sanchez demands either.

And for what it’s worth, start also tossed in this little tidbit, which might actually help make Sherman’s case for Blue Jays inactivity at the deadline:

"And Toronto is one of several teams that are telling clubs they can’t take on any significant money in any deal."

Pretty sure that sounds familiar.