According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, the Blue Jays were among the teams that were interested in Andrew Benintendi before he was dealt to New York.
This comes as a bit of a surprise, but as Heyman notes, Benintendi may have changed his stance on getting vaccinated in order to join a contender for the stretch run. That’s important of course, because the Blue Jays are one of the contenders in the American League, and Benintendi was among the Royals’ players that landed on the restricted list and didn’t make the trip to Toronto a few weeks ago. Until the rules change at the US-Canadian border, unvaccinated players aren’t really a viable option for the Jays, or for teams who could play them in a postseason series.
If the Blue Jays were serious about the pursuit, that shows that they’re still interested in added left-handed bat to a very right-handed group. Despite occasional frustration from the fan base, the offence hasn’t really been the problem this year, however, an upgrade like that would make a lot of sense, and I’ve written about it before.
With Benintendi off the table you have to wonder if the Blue Jays won’t turn their attention someone like Ian Happ of the Chicago Cubs, who is also a popular name on the trade market right now. Happ is having a nice year for the Cubbies while slashing .286/.366/.446 with nine home runs, 25 doubles, and 46 RBI while earning 2.9 bWAR. The former infielder has played almost exclusively in left field for the Cubs this season, but I’m sure he could still slide around a bit. He also comes with one more season of contract control, as he’ll be arbitration eligible for the third and final time after this season before hitting free agency after the 2023 campaign.
As much as I’d like to see Ross Atkins and company find another left-handed bat to break up the lineup, I’m more than fine if they’re focusing all of their time and energy on upgrading the pitching staff right now. Yusei Kikuchi’s outing on Thursday will be an important one for the rotation picture, but they could use some depth whether it goes well for the erratic southpaw or not. The same goes for the bullpen, even if the performance has been better recently.
Update: According to the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Beintendi’s vaccination status was reportedly not discussed ahead of the trade, which is interesting little wrinkle to the story.
It remains to be seen what the Blue Jays will do ahead of next week’s trade deadline, but I guess now we know that it won’t be Benintendi joining the fun.