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Blue Jays Trade Options: 5 Players Toronto Should Target to Contend in AL East

Ramy EljawharyContributor IIOctober 27, 2016

Blue Jays Trade Options: 5 Players Toronto Should Target to Contend in AL East

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    Is there anyone out there that thought the Baltimore Orioles would threaten to finish 15 games ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays this season? 

    Many, including myself, believed that the Jays were ready to take a big step forward (I predicted that they would win the second wild-card spot in an article written way back in February). 

    Unfortunately, inconsistent play and injuries to several key players throughout the season were largely responsible for derailing what was expected to be a coming out party for the Blue Jays.

    GM Alex Anthopoulos will definitely need to add a few arms to the pitching corps as the club ranks at, or near, the bottom in many significant categories (as of September 11).

    MLB rank in brackets

    67 Quality Starts (23)

    989 Strikeouts (24)

    4.58 ERA (26)

    28 Saves (28)

    488 Walks (29)

    175 Home Runs (30)

    The offense could also use a couple of bats as their .244 average and .308 on base percentage ranks 25th and 26th respectively.    

    Here's a look at five players that could help the Jays reach the next level. 

Aaron Crow

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    The Jays were able to bolster an overworked bullpen that featured veterans Darren Oliver, Jason Frasor, Casey Janssen, along with rookies Chad Beck and Aaron Loup by adding J.A Happ, Brandon Lyon, Brad Lincoln and Steve Delabar in late July.

    However, Brandon Lyon and Jason Frasor could find themselves in new uniforms next season.   

    Lyon, 33, is in the final year of a three-year deal he signed with the Houston Astros. He is earning $5.5 million this season and will likely not be retained at that salary. 

    Frasor, 35, is also in the final year of his contract and is earning $3.75 million. He was traded to the Chicago White Sox near the MLB trade deadline last season and was later reacquired from the White Sox in the offseason.

    He’s had a solid career with the Jays, but it may finally be time for the club to cut ties with him for good.

    Enter Aaron Crow. 

    The 25-year old has had another strong season for the Kansas City Royals. In 63 appearances, the right-hander is 3-1 with a 3.38 ERA and is averaging better than a strikeout per inning over 56.0 innings of work. 

    He is earning $1 million this season and is eligible for arbitration in 2014. He can test free agency in 2017. 

Hanley Ramirez

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    After acquiring Shane Victorino, Brandon League, Hanley Ramirez, and taking on a whopping $261million in salary from the Boston Red Sox that added Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett to the fold, the Los Angeles Dodgers are now short on major league ready pitching prospects. 

    Amongst others, Nathan Eovaldi, Rubby De La Rosa and Josh Lindblom, were all moved in the process.  

    The Jays are loaded with pitching prospects (Drew Hutchison, Chad Jenkins, Deck McGuire, Aaron Sanchez, Noah Syndergaard, Justin Nicolino) and could be a good trade partner for the Dodgers. 

    The 28-year old is due $15.5 million in 2013 and $16 million in 2014. 

Matt Garza

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    Matt Garza hasn’t pitched since leaving his July 21 start with a stress reaction in his right elbow and is out for the remainder of the season.   

    However, he is expected to be healthy for the start of the 2013 season. 

    He is familiar with the AL East given his time with the Tampa Bay Rays and holds a combined 17-9 record against the Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, and New York Yankees.

    The 28-year old is eligible for arbitration in 2013, and can become a free agent in 2014. 

Josh Willingham

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    Eric Thames? No. 

    Travis Snider? No.

    Rajai Davis? He's been effective at times but is better suited as a fourth outfielder. 

    For the season, Toronto's left fielders have combined for a .249 average, 61 runs, nine homers, 51 RBI and 35 stolen bases.

    Josh Willingham could be the answer to the Blue Jays' lack of production in left field. 

    He has been terrific for the Minnesota Twins. For the season he’s batting .261 with 33 homers, 102 RBI and has posted a strong .368 on-base percentage.

    20 of his 33 home runs have come at home and if he can put up big numbers in a pitcher-friendly park like Target Field, just imagine what he could do playing half of his games at the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre. 

    The 33-year old is signed through 2014 and is due $7 million in each of the next two seasons.

Josh Johnson

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    The Miami Marlins appear to be in some type of a rebuild mode after moving Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante before the non-waiver trade deadline.

    They were expected to compete for the NL East title after signing Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes and Heath Bell to lucrative contracts.

    Josh Johnson could be a candidate to be moved in the offseason, especially if the Marlins are looking to trim their payroll even further.

    For the season the tall right-hander is 8-11 with a 3.81 ERA and has struck out 147 over 172.1 innings of work. 

    He is set to earn $13.75 million in 2013 and can test free agency in 2014.  

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