Will the Blue Jays be caught in the Trade Deadline Frenzy?

Fans in Toronto are starting to get annoyed. Annoyed to the point where they would like to pull their hair off their heads. But you can’t blame them.

The Toronto Blue Jays sit 4 games behind the division leading Baltimore Orioles.

The Blue Jays who are playing with one-third of their lineup on the DL are just looking for ways to win games and have been looking for answers. They recently claimed Nolan Riemold and Cole Gillespie of waivers with a hope that a new scenery would help them produce but unfortunately that hasn’t been the case. Fans have seen a handful of Buffalo Bison players make their way up to the big league over the past few weeks but haven’t seen any sort of spark to help them turn around their troubles. The harsh truth is that this could get ugly.

Yes it is a long season, but the Blue Jays could fall out of contention if they continue this string of losing series. This series with the Red Sox and the upcoming series with the Yankees (which is basically worth double) could define the Blue Jays season. This is a great opportunity for the Jays to gain ground in the AL East but it might slip away. Fans in Toronto have seen the troubles of an injury-plagued lineup before and they don’t want to see it again. While the Jays are looking for useful additions to the team, others in the AL East will be doing the same. The Yankees have already acquired Brandon McCarthy and the Orioles are said to be having ongoing discussions with the Phillies regarding AJ Burnett per Jon Morosi. The Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox have been red hot as of late and the trade market might be getting very confusing in a sense.

Usually when a team has so many injuries at this time of the year, they choose to sell players and write of the season. Just look at the Rangers who have been hit the hardest this year by injuries with 19 players on the DL according to Sportsnet. Should the Blue Jays have been in a similar situation any other year, they would likely be doing the same but the Jays have a rare chance to make a playoff run. So they must make a move to make the playoffs right?

Well that’s what the average fan would say. I agree – but to a certain extent.

When talking about the Blue Jays last week, Tim Micallef brought up an interesting point. The Blue Jays have been in the “middle” for a long time now and perhaps it is worse that being the worst in the division. Rewind your time machine a few years ago and the Blue Jays fans were promised by the front office that the Jays would make the playoffs in the years to come. Well that promise has yet to be fulfilled. But on the bright side, the Jays could definitely have a chance should they make so moves via trade. And so the debate begins once again. Trade prospects and possibly mortgage future for a playoff run this year or not? Well there could be another option for the Blue Jays.

For the sake of explaining lets group the players on the market into caliber A, B or C. Please keep in mind, these names are just possible players that could be on the move should teams be willing to part ways with these players.

Your level A players on the market include the likes of David Price, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Matt Kemp and Starlin Castro.

Your level B players on the market include players such as Ben Zobrist, Chase Utley, Kendrys Morales, Marlon Byrd, AJ Burnett, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jonathon Papelbon, Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez, Jake Peavy, Ian Kennedy, Bartolo Colon, Steve Cishek, Kurt Suzuki, Tommy Milone and Joakim Soria.

Your level C possible trade options would include names like Daniel Murphy, Gordan Beckham, Chase Headley, Chris Denorfia, John Danks, Martin Prado, Aaron Hill, Josh Willingham and Dayan Viciedo.

The level A players are GAME CHANGERS. Don’t get me wrong these players can make a team from pretender to contender but they come at a price – a hefty price indeed. Should the teams decide to trade away these big names, you can be sure they will be getting a huge return of top ranked prospects. The best part for the sellers is given that these names are on many teams wish list, they can make sure they get the most in return for these stars.

The level B players are good players overall who have been having great seasons overall and will be an upgrade to a current’s team roster. These players are big power bats or big power arms that will come in handy for a team looking to make postseason runs. These teams will likely demand less “worth” for these players but nevertheless these players come at a price.

The level C trade options are not very great players but have a chance to help a team. These aren’t typically as bad as your waiver wire pickups but these players are usually one’s who are having off seasons or surprisingly good seasons but compare as less talented as other names on the market at their same position. Should prospects be involved they won’t be the top prospects in the organization.

The purpose for my explanation above is to explain my thinking about what the Blue Jays should consider doing. Before I go into any suggestions let us discuss some possible names that the Blue Jays could trade. Colby Rasmus, Melky Cabrera are both free agents next year. The Jays have a choice to pick up options for Casey Janssen, Adam Lind, JA Happ and Brandon Morrow. Keeping this in mind these could all be possible trade chips should teams be interested. The main players teams will be looking for are the prospects in the Blue Jays farm system. These include the recent call up Aaron Sanchez, Daniel Norris and Canada’s very own Dalton Pompey. Should the Blue Jays go after the Level A players, the Jays will have to include at least one if not multiple (or all) for the likes of a ace like David Price. So why not? You have a chance to make it to the playoffs right? Well these are bright talented prospects with high upsides.

Lets say the Jays don’t trade any of these prospects they could have a projected starting rotation in 2015/2016 like this:

Marcus Stroman

Aaron Sanchez

Daniel Norris

Drew Hutchinson

Sean Nolin

By this time RA Dickey and Mark Buherle would likely be gone and this fairly young rotation would have a very high upside. Just look at what Marcus Stroman has done this year. Say what you want but he is our ace. I repeat, Marcus Stroman is the Blue Jays ace right now. Maybe I am getting ahead of myself here and of course Blue Jays might make other moves but the point I am trying to make is that the Blue Jays future is bright and trading them away means you will have to look for other pitching options. We have seen the bright young stars in the game, with players like Jose Fernandez, Stephen Stasburg, Matt Harvey and Chris Archer and the who knows the Blue Jays could have a superstar in the making. The issue is that these pitchers are not here and ready to help right now.

The Blue Jays have needed pitching before and after the injuries have happened and it remains questionable why the Blue Jays haven’t made a move already. The need for pitching is simple and doesn’t need much explanation. Pitching wins ballgames and in order to stop a team from scoring you need a consistent pitcher who can give you a strong outing every outing. Sounds like David Price or Cliff Lee right? After all the Jays don’t have a solid “ace”. Imagine going into a Wild Card playoff to win against the likes of Yu Darvish, Felix Hernandez or Matt Scherzer. Who would the Jays put out on the mound? The Blue Jays and all the fans in Toronto would love to get a bring a big name to Toronto but the problem is they need some help in other aspects of the lineup like a big power bat or a second baseman and they can’t have both. Or can they? Well there are some options on the table. This is where my groupings come into play. Instead of trading all our best prospects for caliber A players why not trade away only one top prospect (and less ranked) for caliber B players who can do the job for the Blue Jays.

So who can we be thinking about here?

GM Alex Anthopolous needs to do what’s best for the organization. Now that might sound very vague but though his job is on the line as some might suggest, he should really consider going after these caliber B players. We know scrapping players off the waiver wire isn’t going to cut it and going after caliber C players like Chase Headley, who was just acquired by the Yankees isn’t likely going to help (why take someone else’s problems after all). According to reports the Blue Jays have checked in on all the big names on the market – well no duh. They need to see what teams will be asking for in return. Reports are also saying the Jays have checked in on Alex Rios, former right fielder for the Blue Jays, who has had a dominant career for the Texas Rangers. Given the state their team is, Texas could be willing to part ways with Rios and the Blue Jays should be interested. The Blue Jays would be paying a decent price for a power bat who hits the ball for a high average (.302 AVG, .330 OBP) and could give the Jays options with the possible loss of Rasmus/Cabrera at seasons end. The Jays could put Rios in RF and put Bautista at 3B as Bautista has already said he would do anything to help the team win after all. Another player the Jays should be looking at acquiring is Tommy Milone of the Oakland Athletics. He posted very solid numbers (3.55 ERA) in 16 games as a starter for A’s but was sent to the AAA farm team after the recent blockbuster trade. According to reports he has asked to be traded and why the Blue Jays shouldn’t be interested makes no sense to me. Another relatively “cheap” option who will be a boost to the rotation. Daniel Murphy would be another fine addition to the Jays roster and would slip nicely into second base. He may not sound as exciting as Chase Utley or Ben Zobrist but his performance might go undervalued with such a good crop of second basemen on the market. The Blue Jays have already given top prospects to the Mets in the RA Dickey trade so they might be inclined to do business once again. Aaron Sanchez should help the bullpen for now and acquiring a reliever shouldn’t be as high of a priority for the Blue Jays.

The Blue Jays have a lot to decide. T-minus 9 days to go until the non-waiver trade deadline. But, don’t be surprised to see the Jays make some moves in August as well. Aaron Sanchez who is no longer the teams top prospect technically hasn’t been as dominant as other team’s top prospects. He has faced command issues and the just because the Jays organization think very highly of him doesn’t mean other teams do the same. We have seen the Angels trade their top prospect for a closer, which came to a surprise to me but it shows what the market is like and that the Jays will have to give up good players to get up good players in return. The Jays technically need to go 38-23 the rest of the way out go get to the magical 90 wins and a playoff spot according to experts around the league. One move could make a big difference after all and if the Jays don’t make a big move someone else is bound to. The Jays need to take advantage of this weak division because who knows when this opportunity will come knocking again.

Don’t look now but the Jays have a 30.1% chance of making the playoffs.

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