The Toronto Blue Jays are at an interesting stance as the season heads toward the trade deadline, as the club is just 4.5 games back of a Wild Card spot in the American League. Looking at the current roster, although the team is a few games out from contending, it will be tough for the Blue Jays to field a playoff-worthy team unless they go out and get some arms for the bullpen and potentially another starting pitcher.
It’s no secret that Ross Atkins and the Blue Jays have been interested in quite a few players as July 30th is slowly creeping up, most recently eying RHP Max Scherzer (Nationals), RHP Richard Rodriguez (Pirates), and OF Joey Gallo (Rangers) as potential targets. All three players would make the team better on the scoresheet but a few bullpen arms are what the team really needs, so Rodriguez would help that cause while Gallo most likely falls on the “not necessary but great to have at the right price”.
One thing that the Blue Jays front office should consider when looking for potential assets is who can benefit the team this year but also be controllable past the 2021 season. The reason for this stems more towards where the Blue Jays are in the standings and also how the roster currently shapes up mixed with a potent farm system.
The Toronto Blue Jays front office should look to add players before Friday’s trade deadline who have controllable years past the 2021 season and not rentals.
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Within the AL East, the Blue Jays are currently 10.5 games back of the Boston Red Sox with the Tampa Bay Rays on their heels. It’s not a given that the Jays aren’t able to gain some ground and contend for first by the end of the season but the reality of the situation is that the organization is most likely vying for a spot in the Wild Card if they want to play October baseball.
If the Jays were first in the division, it would make sense to target pending free agents like 3B Kris Bryant and RHP Jon Gray and trade high valued prospects to help improve the team as they have the high ground heading into the postseason. With the Blue Jays looking for a playoff spot via the Wild Card and the price for any premium player such as Bryant or Scherzer being quite high, the decision to acquire these players carries a risk that the club would lose a top prospect and still miss the playoffs. Even with any potential additions, the Wild Card series is back to a sudden death one-game match this year, meaning one off-day could spell an early exit for the Jays.
If the Blue Jays are going to add to the active roster and give up a top prospect like Jordan Groshans or Alejandro Kirk, I would hate to see it wasted on a rental player just for the Jays to either not make the playoffs or get ousted in the Wild Card series. This is obviously the risk associated with trading at the deadline but something to consider as the team has a young core that has the potential to contend for a few years.
Does this mean the Blue Jays shouldn’t add before the Friday trade deadline? Not at all.
What this means is that Ross Atkins should target contract controllable players who can help the team this year and also next season and possibly beyond. He has somewhat accomplished this by acquiring bullpen arms Adam Cimber and Trevor Richards but he shouldn’t stop there.
Some potential names that would help the team are:
- RHP Jose Berrios, RHP Tyler Duffey, and LHP Taylor Rogers (Minnesota Twins)
- RHP Richard Rodriguez (Pittsburgh Pirates)
- RHP Craig Kimbrel (Chicago Cubs)
- RHP Pablo Lopez (Miami Marlins)
There are obviously more names out there but these particular ones would help the team as either an additional arm in the rotation or in the bullpen (although Rogers was just placed on the injured list so he may be one to avoid right now). The Jays could also target Scherzer as he appeared willing to waive his 10-5 rights if he signed a contract extension with the new club. Considering the Blue Jays have a young core that could be contending for years, having Scherzer in the rotation for the next few seasons (obviously at the right price) would be positive over a negative.
I mentioned the other day that there are some players that the Blue Jays could consider who are rentals like relievers RHP Daniel Hudson and LHP Brad Hand on the Washington Nationals, but these players shouldn’t cost the club top prospects when compared to others like Scherzer or Bryant. The deal has to obviously make sense but the risk is less associated with players like Hudson/Hand because the asking price should not cost a top ten prospect.
As the trade deadline approaches, it will be interesting to see what the Blue Jays plan to do and if the club will be willing to deal prospect depth to improve the current roster.
Hopefully, Ross Atkins can acquire some arms that are controllable past the 2021 season if they choose to dip into the top players of the farm system, otherwise, the club may regret their late July decisions come October.