Toronto Blue Jays News

How will the Blue Jays respond to their fellow AL contenders?

TORONTO, ON - JULY 13: Ross Atkins general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays speaks during a press conference after naming John Schneider the interim manager of the team, at Rogers Centre on July 13, 2022 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JULY 13: Ross Atkins general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays speaks during a press conference after naming John Schneider the interim manager of the team, at Rogers Centre on July 13, 2022 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /
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With less than four days left before the trade deadline the Blue Jays haven’t made their move. Will they respond to the upgrades made by the other American League contenders?

That’s a question that will be answered sometime sooner than later, and while I would be surprised if Ross Atkins and company made a move simply to “keep up with the Jones”, I don’t think there’s much debate about the needs with the Blue Jays roster right now. Unfortunately, so far their competition has been more aggressive when it comes to adding impact players.

First it was Andrew Benintendi going to the Yankees, who would have fit the profile of the type of player the Jays could really use these days. Benintendi’s left-handed bat would have done well to break up the batting order a bit, and he’s an above-average defender in left field, winning the AL Gold Glove there last season. His vaccination status certainly complicated things for the Blue Jays, but there were reports that they were sniffing around prior to his deal to New York, and that makes some sense for sure.

The bigger move came on Friday night as the Seattle Mariners acquired arguably the best starting pitcher on the trade market in Luis Castillo. The right-hander would have looked great in a Blue Jays uniform, but to be fair, the Mariners paid a hefty package to get him, even if it could very well turn out to be worth it. We’ll likely never know what kind of bid was made, but I would have loved to be a fly on the wall during the discussions in the Blue Jays front office, and to know how close they might have been to being the highest bidder.

All is not lost for the Blue Jays after these two players have come off the board, and there is still time to upgrade the roster in a significant way. Ideally the Blue Jays would be able to find a starting pitcher and a left-handed bat of quality like Castillo and Benintendi, but I would argue that the highest priority is in the bullpen anyway. I’m not saying that the Jays wouldn’t have been better with either player added to their 26-man roster, but I can understand why their priorities might be somewhere else right now.

The Blue Jays were dealt a first-hand lesson about the value of a strong bullpen with what they experienced on Friday night against the Tigers. Detroit may not be in the mix for a playoff spot in 2022, but they do have a quality bullpen with some arms that could really fit the profile of the Blue Jays’ greatest need right now. If Ross Atkins and company do nothing before the deadline, I hope they can land at least a couple relievers that can move the needle for what has largely been an underwhelming bullpen this season.

While it would be a dream for the fan base to see Ross Atkins come out and say “I see your Castillo, and I raise you a Shohei Ohtani!”, I doubt that’s the way that the front office is thinking right now. This regime has been disciplined with their evaluations in the past, and I don’t expect that to change too much, even if I think the playbook could be thrown out the window for a star like Ohtani.

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With less than four days before the MLB deadline passes for another year, we’re about to find out just how much the front office views 2022 as a “win-now” year. If they’re truly serious about competing this season, and I think they are, I expect that there will be more trade movement among the AL contenders before Tuesday’s deadline, and hopefully the Blue Jays will be the next to make their move.

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