Blue Jays must consider 2016 rotation at trade deadline


Much of the discussion surrounding the Toronto Blue Jays and the upcoming trade deadline has focused on the idea of a rental player. General manager Alex Anthopoulos has reiterated his desire to add a player with multiple years of control over a two-month arm, and when we look at how the 2015 rotation has played out, it may be necessary.

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This Blue Jays rotation, even more than the average rotation, needs a Mark Buehrle. Old Reliable has come on very strong since early June, and now sits at 121.1 innings pitched over 18 starts. His plummeting ERA of 3.34 has been invaluable, but it is Buehrle’s otherworldly consistency that Toronto will need in 2016 should he retire or choose to sign elsewhere.

There is optimism surrounding the young arms in Toronto’s system, both MLB-ready and otherwise, and all of it is justified. Daniel Norris is ready right now, while Aaron Sanchez and Drew Hutchison are MLB arms despite their inconsistent health and success this season. Marcus Stroman will step back into a top-of-rotation role next season, while Roberto Osuna and Jeff Hoffman could both be considered for spots in the rotation. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Rotation inconsistencies this season, however, highlight the first rule of baseball: Nothing goes as planned. Did we really expect Marco Estrada to be one of the club’s most consistent starters? When Spring Training opened, did we expect a rotation without Stroman, Norris and Sanchez in mid-July? We didn’t, but thankfully, having an arm like Buehrle has helped to hold the starting staff and bullpen together.

R.A. Dickey‘s contract option is a week-long discussion of its own, but if Toronto is able to add a pitcher with team control, perhaps someone like a Tyson Ross or James Shields from San Diego, then he becomes more expendable. The presence of a more trustworthy veteran arm would allow for some combination of the four younger arms to fill out the rotation with Dickey’s salary being spent elsewhere.

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Alex Anthopoulos could also find better value financially on this trade market than he would in free agency following the season. The market will be stacked with talent, but in a battle of money and market, Toronto will rarely come out on top. In a battle of prospects, however, that’s a different story.

As our Shaun Doyle detailed earlier this morning, both Daniel Norris and Jeff Hoffman have been drawing huge crowds of scouts to their recent starts. Not only are they two of baseball’s higher-ceiling pitching prospects, they’re also getting hot at the right time and could be a trump-card that Anthopoulos holds over other teams in negotiations.

This is where we enter a very unique corner of the “win now vs. win later” conversation, because there’s an opportunity to throw some coins in each jar. Such a move could eliminate the Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija discussions, unfortunately, but it save us from a much more frustrating discussion one year from now.

Next: Where does Devon Travis belong in a lineup?

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