Considering their start and the way the teams behind them struggle, the Toronto Blue Jays are easy favorites for the eighth and final playoff spot in a top American League.
The opportunity presents itself and general manager Ross Atkins appears interested in answering the door and rolling the dice in a shortened season playoff series over the next two months.
Even with key names like Bo Bichette, Ken Giles, Matt Shoemaker and Nate Pearson all on the injured list with murky return dates, the young Atkins ball club did exactly the right thing for the first half of this 60-game season: stay afloat and give themselves a chance.
Where things go from here will have a lot to do with health, a little luck, and whether or not Atkins and the front office can find reinforcements for a booming rotation, overworked enclosure, lineup. which could take length. and a bench in need of deep and defensive improvements.
As a team, the Jays are far from perfect.
There will be substantial conversations between today and Monday 4:00 p.m. ET, the Major League Baseball trade cut-off time, but that’s where the certainty ends.
“I would expect us to be extremely active, that’s exactly what the results end up being, we’ll see,” Atkins said. “We would like to continue to add to our shot and we would like to continue to complete our offense. We’ll be focusing more on running prevention, which could be a sort of defensive supplement that also provides offense, obviously. and stroke prevention will be our goal in the future. ”
Atkins took the lead in acquiring the right-hander Taijuan Walker of the Seattle Mariners on Thursday, but the deadline chatter in that one-off season appears to be in line with previous years, leaving some GMs to expect a busy Monday.
“I was actually talking to an executive who agreed that we were all, I think, pleasantly surprised at how active everyone is,” Atkins said. “It sounds a lot like a typical deadline. The calls are non-stop, the offers are consistent, we are making huge strides and understanding where the opportunities are and that bodes well for us to improve the team. ”
Here’s a look at six names that could help the Blue Jays advance.
RHP Lance Lynn, Rangers of Texas
Already connected to the Jays recently by Ken Rosenthal, Lynn represents one of the prices of the pitching market.
With another year remaining on his three-year, $ 30 million contract that the 33-year-old signed at the end of the 2018 season, Lynn is a top piece that would provide value to the Jays in 2021, as good.
It’s also going to cost a lot in terms of potential capital, which Atkins might not be too keen on committing to at this point, but there’s no doubt that a Hyun-Jin Ryu and Lynn duo would give. a chance at the Jays in a short postseason. the series arrive in October.
Jays could also check in on Rangers left Mike Minor, which, despite a low season so far, provided 4.1 fWAR and 3.59 ERA out of 32 departures in 2019.
RHP Dylan Bundy, Los Angeles Angels
Another controllable arm during the 2021 campaign, Bundy will also be expensive.
Not only is he still only 27, but Bundy has also honed his repertoire this season and the results have been fantastic, leading to a 2.58 ERA in six starts and the best strikeout of his career (10.3 ) and at walking rates (1.9).
The fourth overall pick in the 2011 Draft, I’m finally living up to the hype, and any winning team could have one of Bundy’s best years of 2021.
That alone is something the Jays should be interested in.
LHP Robbie Ray, Arizona Diamondbacks
A free agent at the end of the year, Ray would be pure hire for the Jays, especially since the southpaw wears an ERA of 7.84 and equally ugly peripherals over seven starts.
A big arm at the dam with a career K / 9 of 11.1, it’s not certain the Jays would be interested in a small project, but the price will never be lower for a pitcher once considered one. of the best sets to become available. This winter.
You can add the right-hander of the San Francisco Giants Kevin Gausman to this stack, as well.
SS Andrelton Simmons, Los Angeles Angels
MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported on Saturday that the Jays had “saved” Simmons, arguably the best defensive shortstop of the game.
At first glance, it might be curious to see Bichette in the fold, but moving the 22-year-old to second base and inserting Simmons in sixth would turn their midfield inner defense into perhaps the best in baseball.
Simmons, a free agent this winter, hasn’t offered much with the bat in a 2018 season – he’s a career .268 / .316 / .379 hitter – but his glove offers so much standalone value. that it’s no surprise that Atkins at least called.
There is also the health side to consider.
Bichette has resumed baseball activities in an attempt to recover from her sprained knee, but the Jays have not given a concrete timeline.
RHP Chad Kuhl, Pirates de Pittsburgh
Before Walker’s trade dwindled, the Jays were loosely connected to a pair of Pittsburgh Pirates right-handed people in Kuhl and Trevor Williams.
Both are relatively unproven and boring spinning rear options, but Kuhl has an intriguing bat-lack ability that Williams doesn’t have, making him an interesting name to watch out for as an arm under the radar that could be on the move.
Thanks to 25 innings this year, Kuhl has thrown a 2.54 ERA, while Williams sits on a 5.34 ERA in six starts.
Both are under the squad’s control during the 2023 season.
RHP Mike Clevinger, Cleveland
We’ll end this with a big start-up storyline, one that would dramatically shake up the AHL projections and get Blue Jays fans excited.
Thanks to questionable pandemic decision-making and a Cleveland organization that appears capable of developing pitchers in its sleep, a 29-year-old ace in Clevinger could be available.
The price, however, will be as high as it gets.
Front-office relationship could be key here, as Jays and Cleveland pledge Corey Kluber this winter, and that framework could at least be a start.
If the Jays are interested in this type of blockbuster, even if it isn’t Clevinger in the end, the two names to watch in the system are young catchers Alejandro Kirk and Gabriel Moreno, both interviewed on multiple occasions in trade talks at the over the past year.