For the Blue Jays, Christmas in late August is a chance to upgrade the roster

With a flurry of talented MLB players placed on the waiver wire ahead of the September 1st 40-man roster deadline for postseason eligibility, Christmas has come early to MLB. The Blue Jays could have an opportunity to upgrade their roster for the final wild card push.
Tampa Bay Rays v Los Angeles Angels - Game Two
Tampa Bay Rays v Los Angeles Angels - Game Two / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages
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Enter Renfroe and Grichuk

While the Jays are only 8th in the waiver order amongst potential postseason teams, they surely will be submitting waiver claims on both Hunter Renfroe and Randal Grichuk in the hope that one of them isn’t claimed by the teams ahead of them in the waiver order. While that seems unlikely, both players could offer some right-handed power off the bench in September. Grichuk, in particular, has mashed left-handed pitching to the tune of .323/.387/.583/.970, with 6 home runs and 12 RBIs in 96 at-bats.

Grichuk, who is already being paid $4.33 million in retained salary by Toronto this year, has slugged a combined 12 home runs in Colorado and Los Angeles this season. Jays fans might also remember his hot September in 2019, when he slugged 8 HRs with 20 RBI and an .816 OPS. He also has 52 postseason plate appearances with St. Louis and Toronto. He’s owed $1.7 million more this year.

Renfroe looks like the real prize here power wise, with 19 HRs and 56 RBI. That would be 2nd on the Jays for home runs and 4th for RBIs. He’s owed about $2 million more in 2023, and has 67 postseason plate appearances over his career with Tampa Bay and Boston.

While both players have been slumping badly of late, a chance to leave the sinking Angels ship and join a team playing meaningful baseball in September might be a powerful elixir?

Matt Moore and Reynaldo López

Another intriguing player is lefty reliever Matt Moore. He pitched 24 postseason innings earlier in his career as a starter with Tampa Bay and San Francisco, but has reinvented himself as a lockdown reliever. He’s 4-1 this season with a 2.66 ERA over 44.0 innings, with 49 strikeouts against only 12 walks. That excellent control has led to an ERA+ of 198 and a WHIP of 1.02.

Only Jordan Romano, Jay Jackson, Tim Mayza, Bowden Francis and Génisis Cabrera have a lower ERA in the Jays’ bullpen. Moore also offers a different repertoire than Mayza from the left side, throwing fastballs (49% of his pitches), changeups (33%) and curveballs (18%) to Mayza’s sinkers (78%) and sliders (22%). He’s owed $1.25 million more this season.

29-year-old righty Reynaldo López has also been outstanding for the Angels since coming over in the trade deadline deal with Lucas Giolito. Since being acquired July 26th, he has a 2.77 ERA in 13 games, with 2 saves in 3 opportunities and 4 holds over 13.0 innings, with 19 strikeouts and 8 walks. He features a 98mph 4-seam fastball with an 88mph slider. He’s owed $604,167 in September, and has 4.0 innings of postseason experience in two appearances with the Nationals and White Sox.

While it’s hard to say this, both might be upgrades over Jay Jackson and Bowden Francis in terms of being postseason difference makers?


If they felt the need for starting pitching depth, Mike Clevinger has a 3.32 ERA over 18 starts and 97.2 innings, with an ERA+ of 134 (i.e. he’s been 34% better than average), while Giolito has a 4.45 ERA over 27 starts covering 153.2 innings. Clevinger is owed another $1.33 million this year, with a $4 million buyout if his $12 million 2024 mutual option isn’t excercised; Giolito is owed $1.73 million.

GM Atkins has another opportunity to improve his stumbling ball club, which is only 14-12 since the August 1st trade deadline, and 23-20 since the All-Star break in July. With 28 games left, and Bo Bichette, Matt Chapman, Erik Swanson and potentially Brandon Belt (who had back spasms Tuesday according to manager John Schneider) all dealing with injuries, the waiver wire could offer quality MLB reinforcements just when the Blue Jays need them. Let’s go Blue Jays!