Toronto Blue Jays Trade Deadline Outlook

Currently in the thick of a Wild Card race, what do the Blue Jays have to add to their roster to separate themselves from the pack at the deadline?

Kevin Gausman #34 of the Toronto Blue Jays walks to the dugout with pitching coach Pete Walker before playing the Boston Red Sox in their MLB game at the Rogers Centre.
TORONTO, ON - APRIL 27: Kevin Gausman #34 of the Toronto Blue Jays walks to the dugout with pitching coach Pete Walker before playing the Boston Red Sox in their MLB game at the Rogers Centre on April 27, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)

The Toronto Blue Jays currently find themselves in the thick of the Wild Card race, competing against the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays with the Cleveland Guardians right on their heels. With one of the toughest weeks of the season now behind them, the Jays are on a west coast road trip that will hopefully put some wins in the record column.

With the season now past the halfway mark, there are a few key dates coming up this month and in early August that could shape up the rest of the year. The All-Star weekend is set for July 16th to July 19th with the first day of the draft scheduled for July 17th, smack dab in the middle.

More importantly, the trade deadline is coming into focus and the Jays have a solid core that could really benefit from a few more pieces before the deadline passes.

Adding to the Blue Jays Bullpen

The Blue Jays relief staff currently owns a 4.34 ERA on the season, currently sitting 22nd in the league. They have also crossed the 300-inning threshold on Sunday and have numerous pitchers either struggling or on the injured list.

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Julian Merryweather, Nate Pearson, and Tayler Saucedo are all on the 60-day IL, while the club can really only rely on a few pitchers in high leverage situations like Tim Mayza, David Phelps, Adam Cimber, and Jordan Romano.

There are a few wild cards in the mix like Matt Gage and Max Castillo (both are back in the minors for now) who could gain some increased reps in the near future but some are struggling to find consistency like Trevor Richards and Trent Thornton.

The front office made a couple of moves in the past week, like adding Sergio Romo and trading for Anthony Banda, who was just called up on Monday. Romo has pitched well in his two outings so far with the Jays but really struggled earlier this season, making me wonder if he can continue this hot streak.

Ultimately, the Jays do not have enough shut-down-type players in the bullpen and adding one or two quality veteran relievers before the trade deadline is an absolute must if the club wants to improve their playoff chances (both getting in and contending). Some names include David Bednar (Pirates), Scott Barlow (Royals), David Roberston (Cubs), Andrew Chafin (Tigers), and Daniel Bard (Rockies) amongst many others.

There should be quite a few solid options available on the trade block and it wouldn’t be surprising if Ross Atkins finds a way to add a couple of solid pieces to the bullpen come early August. We will have to see what the return will be, as the Jays did have some bad luck at last year’s deadline with Brad Hand and Joakim Soria, but hopefully, things turn out for the better this time around.

Looking for a Starter

Considering the Blue Jays added Kevin Gausman and Yusei Kikuchi this past offseason, it is odd to think that the club may be in the market for an additional starter as we head into July. With Hyun Jin Ryu undergoing Tommy John surgery and both Kikuchi and Jose Berrios struggling to find consistency, it would make sense that the Jays’ front office at least kicks the tires on some possible starting options this trade deadline.

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The two front-runners are Luis Castillo (Reds) and Frankie Montas (Athletics), with the rest of the remaining trade candidates on scuffling teams being quite behind the pack and at least further down in the rotation order. Martin Perez on the Rangers is also an intriguing option but his past history and the fact that Texas is only five games out from the Wild Card might make teams pass (if he becomes available).

It could be argued that the other options other than Castillo and Montas would be downgrades over the current staff, even with their pitching woes, so unless the Jays are willing to pony up prospects for the second deadline in a row, acquiring a solid starter to add alongside Gausman and Alek Manoah may be a difficult task.

I would imagine the hope is that Berrios and/or Kikuchi can figure it out for the second half of the season but adding another starter could be the move to make if neither pitcher finds a groove over the next few weeks, especially after depth pitchers Thomas Hatch and Casey Lawerence struggled this past weekend.

Left-Handed Bat for the Blue Jays Roster

The Blue Jays have four lefty bats on the roster, with one player (Bradley Zimmer) sporting a .469 OPS on the season, while Zack Collins’ time on the squad is limited with Danny Jansen starting his rehab assignment yesterday. Cavan Biggio has been on fire lately, owning a .363 batting average over his last seven games while outfielder Raimel Tapia is finding some success as well.

Overall, the Blue Jays do lack bats that hit from the left side but the problem will be finding playing time for any position player they acquire. The club currently utilizes the designated hitter spot as a way to give their star players rest but keep their bats in the lineup, as well as having Alejandro Kirk hit on days when Gabriel Moreno is catching. The Jays have also used Kirk as the DH when Jansen was catching as well, and with how well he is hitting lately, manager Charlie Montoyo needs to have his bat in the lineup on a consistent basis.

There are a few players who should be available, like Andrew Benintendi (Royals), Josh Bell (Nationals), and Ian Happ (Cubs), that would make great additions to the Jays lineup, but finding playing time for any of these players is going to be tough.

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Adding a veteran position player also means someone from the roster has to go, meaning it could be curtains for Zimmer (DFA candidate) or potentially Moreno, who could find himself optioned back down to Triple-A. Whatever the case may be, unless an active roster player is moved in the deal as well, playing time for any new member of the Jays is going to be difficult to find.