The trade deadline may have long come and gone, but Ross Atkins and the front office have continued to look for ways to improve the Blue Jays.
On Friday the Blue Jays added another veteran to the organization in Jake Lamb, who had played 43 games with the Chicago White Sox this season. After being designated for assignment, the Jays are taking a flyer on the 30 year, and I suppose it makes some sense. He’s been a bit of a utility player with the White Sox in 2021, but he’s spent the majority of his career playing third base. The Blue Jays have used a variety of players at the hot corner recently between Breyvic Valera, Kevin Smith, and the recently injured Santiago Espinal, and certainly don’t have an established starter at the position.
Lamb hadn’t provided a whole lot for Chicago this season, hitting just .212/.321/.389 with six home runs and 13 RBI over 113 at-bats. He did hit 59 home runs from 2016-2017, which including a 2017 NL All-Star appearance, but he’s probably more depth than anything at this point, especially with Cavan Biggio also getting close to a return. The only reason to arguably second guess bringing Lamb aboard is that the Jays had to DFA Connor Overton, who has impressed in limited opportunity out of the bullpen.
Lamb isn’t the first big league veteran the Jays have taken a flyer on recently, and we’ve already seen one of them contributing during the late innings in speedster Jarrod Dyson. Just as he has for most of his career, Dyson has served primarily as a pinch runner and late-inning defensive replacement, and that role can be important for a team that needs every inch they can gain to stay in the postseason race.
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Dyson wasn’t the first outfielder added over the last few weeks either, as former Pittsburgh Pirate Gregory Polanco is now in Triple-A and trying to work his way to another MLB opportunity. The 29 year old had a very difficult season in Pittsburgh before he was designated for assignment, slashing just .208/.283/.354 with 11 home runs, 36 RBI, and 14 stolen bases across 336 at-bats. The Pirates long believed that Polanco could be a centre piece of their roster and he showed flashes of that kind of potential, but he just hasn’t been able to put it together. It remains to be seen if he’ll get another opportunity in Toronto this year, but it’s an interesting add.
Last but not least, the Jays also added another speedy outfielder to the mix in August in Mallex Smith. The acquisition of Dyson likely cost Smith the first shot at joining the big league roster, as they fit a similar mold. It’s also curious that the Blue Jays have added so many outfielders when their roster already includes Teoscar Hernandez, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Randal Grichuk, Corey Dickerson, and George Springer (if he’s ever healthy enough to play defence again), but depth is never a bad thing.
If the Blue Jays manage to qualify for the postseason they won’t be able to use any of the players they’ve recently acquired over the last few weeks, as they joined the team after the July 30 deadline (*Correction- only Lamb is ineligible, as the deadline is actually Aug 31 for playoff eligible players to be on your roster) That said, if they can help the Jays stay relevant down the stretch and give them a chance to make a comeback in the Wild Card race, it’s been well worth keeping an eye open for upgrades, even in August and September.