The Blue Jays have some obvious needs ahead of the trade deadline, but they have different challenges to improve their roster compared to most teams.
I know it’s been a hot topic on social media all season, and one that gets ramped up every time a new team visits the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre (and we learn more names of players that aren’t vaccinated), but it’s a hurdle that has to be jumped on both sides. I understand other teams being frustrated with having to leave some of their players at home from time to time, but let’s not forget that the Blue Jays spent nearly two full seasons without a real home ballpark. They’ve also had to be choosy with which players they sign in free agency, and who they can pursue on the trade market.
I talked about it a bit the other day, and by no means am I making excuses for the Blue Jays’ front office, but I think it’s important to acknowledge some of the challenges they’ve faced over the last couple of years as well. When it comes to building the roster in particular, they’ve been even more limited in their choices than usual because of the rules around crossing the Canada-US border if you aren’t vaccinated. As things stand today, it’s not really feasible for the Blue Jays to roster any unvaccinated players, unless they’re looking for a half-time player scenario like what the Brooklyn Nets went through with Kyrie Irving in the NBA last year. No one wants that.
For what it’s worth, I thought it would be interesting to list off a few players that we now know the Blue Jays can’t or simply won’t pursue because of this issue. Once again it limits their options to try to improve the roster through the trade route, which isn’t ideal.
It would make sense for the Blue Jays to have some interest in Benintendi, as the veteran outfielder would help balance the lineup by hitting from the left side, and historically he’s had strong on-base skills. He’s also a plus defender in left field, which always helps. Alas, Benintendi couldn’t make the trip with the Royals this week for their four-game set at the Rogers Centre, so unless something changes the Blue Jays can cross him off the list.
Not that there have been any recent rumours around Merrifield, but he seems to be a name that pops up on the trade market every year. He’s long been a quiet star in Kansas City, and with the ability to play second base and also in the outfield, he could have been a fit in Toronto. Unfortunately he’s another player that didn’t make the trip to the Rogers Centre, so if the Royals do finally shop the 33 year old, the Blue Jays likely won’t be among the suitors. He was quoted in an interview this week saying he’d be open to it if he was playing for a contender later in the year, but that mostly served to upset folks from the Royals. Whoops.
Not that the Blue Jays and Mariners are going to talk about a trade now, but I felt like Ray’s name was worth mentioning here. The Jays were clearly interested in bringing him back last winter when he hit free agency, but we now know there was an extra wrinkle involved. The fact that they were able to sign Kevin Gausman to take his place in the rotation looks even better with the benefit of hindsight.
A awhile ago I suggested that the Blue Jays and Twins could be a possible match for another trade, and Kepler was someone that caught my eye. Apparently that’s not an option either, so the Blue Jays will have to find a left-handed bat elsewhere.
A few notable Phillies
If the Philadelphia Phillies end up being sellers of any kind before the Aug 2nd trade deadline, the Blue Jays won’t be able to pursue a few of the potentially available players. Aaron Nola and Kyle Gibson could both provide a nice boost to the rotation in Toronto, but neither of them made the trip earlier in the week. There was a time that the Blue Jays were rumoured to be interested in J.T. Realmuto as well, but that obviously wasn’t going to work either, and it worked out just fine for the Blue Jays as far as their catching situation goes.
Noah Yingling from FanSided.com has been keeping track of the players that have hit the restricted list before visiting the Blue Jays, and it might be about the closest thing to a publicly available list. That’s obviously fine, and we don’t need access to personal health records or decisions of any player, but unfortunately it is relevant to the Blue Jays as they look for ways to improve the roster.