With seven days remaining until the Aug. 2 MLB trade deadline, the Toronto Blue Jays are likely to be active in trying to add pieces to the roster.
After a three-game sweep of the Red Sox, in which they outscored Boston 40-10, the Jays are second in the AL East and hold the first Wild Card spot in the American League.
MLB Insider Buster Olney predicts the Jays will shore up at least two crucial areas of the roster ahead of next Tuesday’s deadline.
“They will get a left-handed hitter of some kind, as we’ve been talking about since the beginning of the year, to try and balance out the lineup and have more favorite matchups for the team,” said Olney, on TSN’s First Up. “I don’t know if that’s going to be Josh Bell, who’s a switch hitter, or if it’s going to be some other guy. It does feel like we’re still waiting for the available players to be completely defined by the sellers.”
Bell, a first baseman for the Washington Nationals, is hitting .302 with 13 home runs and 51 RBI in 97 games this season. In 1,994 career at-bats hitting from the left side, Bell holds a .275 average with 91 home runs and 330 RBI.
Olney adds that the Jays will also look for a reliever to add to a bullpen that sits 19th in the majors with a 4.05 ERA and has blown 17 saves, fifth most in the league.
“I also think [the Blue Jays] are going to get a reliever. I think every contender is going to get a reliever because the way teams look at relievers now is kind of the way NFL teams look at running backs, in that they’re effectively disposable,” added Olney.
“And so, if someone has a reliever who’s good in the moment, David Bedar of the Pirates is one, Joe Mantiply of the Diamondbacks is another, those teams are not looking at those players as building blocks, they’re looking at them as assets and want to take advantage of their value as soon as possible.
“I think the Jays will get at least one reliever and a left-handed batter.”
The Blue Jays have also been rumoured as a possible destination for Nationals superstar Juan Soto, who recently turned down a $440 million contract from the team. However, Olney does not believe Toronto is among the favorites to acquire the 23-year-old slugger.
“The Blue Jays certainly have the prospects where they could get a deal done. But Mike Rizzo, the general manager of the Nationals, is known among his peers as a guy who focuses on a very small group of players,” said Olney. “He will go into a trade deadline like he did last year, when Max Scherzer and Trea Turner were available, and say ‘Those are the prospects in that particular organization that I want, and I’m going to keep circling back until I make a deal with that team’.”
The Blue Jays have four prospects in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100: catcher Gabriel Moreno (No. 6), shortstop Orelvis Martinez (No. 36), starting pitcher Ricky Tiedemann (No. 63), and infielder Jordan Groshans (No. 84). However, Olney does not believe Rizzo has his sights set on the Jays’ group of young prospects.
“So we can think of all the reasons why Soto would be great for the Blue Jays and look at their prospects and say, maybe this group would be available to them but it really only matters what Mike Rizzo wants,” said Olney. “At the moment, I don’t look at the Blue Jays as being the favourite.”
Olney adds that five teams are currently in the mix for Soto, including the Jays’ AL East rivals, the New York Yankees.
“The most motivated team is without a doubt the San Diego Padres. They theoretically have a package of players to potentially make a deal. The Cardinals are probably the team with the deepest group of Major League ready players that might interest the Nationals,” said Olney. “The Mariners are sleepers because they have a chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2001, I think they’re all in.
“And you can never ignore the Dodgers and the Yankees. Although my sense is that Rizzo does not trade well with the Yankees. There’s not a great trade relationship there. So that’s good news for the Blue Jays. I think it’s more likely than not that he goes someplace besides the Yankees.”