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Blue Jays Have No Easy Answers for Upgrades

The Toronto Blue Jays are obviously in need of upgrades if they’re going to make a playoff run, but the options available are not glaring


Featured Images Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase


 


 

The Toronto Blue Jays are going to spend the next month (or so) figuring out how they can bolster their roster for a playoff run. It might take that long for them to run all of the different possibilities. This won’t be a 2015 shopping spree that simply brings in as many of the available trade targets as possible. Then, the division was close and the club was hanging around. Now, the foundation is good and adding to it won’t require obvious names. No, 2022 will be about trying to figure out how to solidify an already good team.

 

The immediate answer is to trade for pitching. With Hyun Jin Ryu out for the season and Kevin Gausman‘s next start in question (at least at the time of writing), there are suddenly some serious question marks in the rotation. Jose Berrios has been up and down this year and Yusei Kikuchi has been…well, whatever we can call what he’s been. And, we cannot expect Alek Manoah to carry the whole team’s playoff hopes. A starter is likely in order. At least one.

 

The bullpen is also in need of some reinforcements. It’s been hit with injuries as well as been used quite a bit in the early goings. And, while JFtC’s Bob Ritchie already pointed out that it’s not unusual this season in MLB, it could have serious ramifications as the playoffs inch closer. The injuries are tough to cover for when the pitching depth is questionable at best. We’ve heard the term ‘raise the floor’ before around these parts and a trade or two might be in order to do just that for this relief corps.

 

But, where do the Blue Jays find answers? Well, the first place to look is the standings at the teams who have fallen out of races. Teams like Oakland, Baltimore, Kansas City, Washington and Cincinnati are good places to start. For example, a team like Baltimore finds themselves with one of the better bullpens in baseball. Currently, they sit in 2nd place in all of baseball with a bullpen fWAR of 3.9 and they’ve done so pitching the 4th most innings at 331 IP. The 29 year old Jorge Lopez could be a very intriguing option with his nearly 60% ground ball rate and hsi 13 saves, but him not being a free agent until 2025 means he’s going to cost a lot. The other thing to keep in mind is that relievers come with such a small sample size. Lopez has seen 38 innings. It is entirely possible that a reliever can change teams and see much different results. Lastly, these 5 teams can safely be described as sellers at this point, which doesn’t leave a whole lot of other places to shop.

 

Of course, by the time the Trade Deadline approaches, more teams could find themselves out of their respective races. Other teams could be within reach, but decide the cost of ‘going for it’ does not fit with their grander scheme and they could pull out of the race. This is the argument for not rushing into a trade. The flip side of that is that waiting also gives those middling teams a chance to gain ground and thus become competitors for pieces Toronto wants.

 

Even if the ‘target’ issue isn’t all that difficult, there is another side to this coin that the Blue Jays will have a tough time coming to grips with: there are not obvious trade chips to use.

 

If the Blue Jays are going to pull of a trade (or two, or three) to give their chances a boost, they’ll need to either pull from their farm system or their big league roster. Their system has taken a hit over the last 18 months or so with trades for Berrios and Matt Chapman. Bleacher Report has them ranked 18th in baseball, while MLB had them at 21st just before the season began. Sure, everywhere could have them in a different spot, but the common theme is that it is a bottom half of the league system. Yes, there are decent pieces, but not as many, especially in the upper levels.

 

That means that the big league roster is more of a possibility. Trading from the big league roster to improve the big league roster is no easy task. As an example, many have suggested that the catching position is the first place from which the Blue Jays could trade. With Danny Jansen coming back, Alejanrdo Kirk leading the team with 3 fWAR and looking like an All Star shoe in and the best catching prospect in baseball, Gabriel Moreno, all options for big league playing time, one of them has to go, right? But, which one? Surely, Atkins wouldn’t give up the future value of Moreno, but selling high on Kirk creates a pretty significant hole in the lineup. Jansen certainly has trade value, but he’s also shown signs of consistent offense and his work behind the dish is heralded by many. There is no obvious answer here.

 

And, that is where Toronto finds themselves. They have semi obvious pitching need, but their offense hasn’t exactly lived up to its potential, not consistently. Are there upgrades to be found there? Could they simply try and hit their way to a championship? Even if their needs are clear, the targets are less so. Even if their targets became clear, how to go about obtaining them is anything but clear. This next month is going to be an interesting time if you enjoy the behind the scenes games.

 

 

 

 

*Featured Images Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.

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