MLB Trade Deadline: Breaking Down Why the Toronto Blue Jays Need an Infielder

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MLB Trade Deadline: Breaking Down Why the Toronto Blue Jays Need an Infielder
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The MLB trade deadline is just a matter of days away, and the Toronto Blue Jays still have plenty of work to do. With so many injuries and a few holes to fill, standing pat is not an option if the Blue Birds want to make the postseason for the first time in two decades.

Yesterday, I took a look at the team's best options to improve on the mound.

In this edition of potential deadline moves for the Jays, I look at why the Jays are also in need of another infielder.

Whether it's a middle infielder or someone to man the hot corner depends on where the Jays envision youngster Brett Lawrie playing when he returns from injury.

Regardless of what they decide, neither position has been a particularly productive one this year in relation to the rest of the major leagues, and some sort of upgrade is in order.

Toronto's third basemen have combined for a .229 average (24th in the major leagues) and a .714 OPS (17th in the majors). The second basemen have also performed at a middle-of-the-pack rate, hitting .256 (good for 16th in baseball) with a .679 OPS (18th best).

Those numbers may not seem all that bad, but scratch beyond the surface, and you'll find at this point in the season that they're somewhat of a mirage.

First, you have the second basemen's batting average sitting at .256. Seems like a respectable number from a middle-infield position. Problem is, that has been in large part due to Munenori Kawasaki's surge that has seen him hit .326 in July.

Even the most optimistic Jays fan would probably admit that kind of production isn't likely to continue.

At third base, the .229 average speaks for itself, while the .714 OPS is not only lackluster but also misleading. That's because Juan Francisco has been manning the hot corner of late and his production has taken a sharp decline since his torrid start to the season.

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Once pitchers figured out that Francisco could pummel fastballs but was helpless against breaking pitches, his OPS collapsed.

The Dominican native hit just .169 in June and posted an abysmal .587 OPS. This month has been better (.226 average, .737 OPS) but still not what a team would expect from a corner infielder in terms of production.

Even with the return of Lawrie, the Jays would still be forced to trot out either Kawasaki, Francisco or Steve Tolleson on an everyday basis.

Adding a more reliable, productive and preferably more versatile bat before July 31 must be a priority for a Blue Jays club trying to leapfrog the Baltimore Orioles for the AL East division crown down the stretch.

Kawasaki and Tolleson may be hitting well in July, but bringing in a more consistent and proven bat could help solidify a lineup riddled with injuries and help return Toronto's offense to the dominant force it was in the early stages of the season.

A veteran who has experienced meaningful baseball down the stretch and has played in the postseason could also provide the team with a locker room leader.

With a few candidates available on the trade market, now is the time for the Blue Jays to strike.

 

Jon Reid is a contributor to Bleacher Report. Keep and eye out for his next trade deadline piece on which infielders the Blue Jays should target. You can also follow him on twitter @JonReidCSM.

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