Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos elected to stand pat at the MLB non-waiver trade deadline last week, a move that was criticized by some of the team’s stars, such as Jose Bautista and Casey Janssen, per Gregor Chisholm of the Toronto Blue Jays' official website.
The good news for the Blue Jays is that even though the non-waiver trade deadline may have passed, it’s still not too late for the team to make some moves in order to upgrade the roster.
Players across the league who have cleared waivers can be traded until August 31, 2014. As these waivers are revocable, teams usually place several of their players on waivers. If a player is claimed, the claiming team and the player’s team can either work out a trade or that player can be withdrawn from waivers. If a player clears waivers, he can be traded to any team.
With so many players clearing waivers, it’s not unusual to see deals involving big names happen after the non-waiver trade deadline. For example, the trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012 occurred after the non-waiver trade deadline.
While the Blue Jays likely won’t be making similar blockbuster moves, it’s still possible for the team to shore up its weaknesses by acquiring a few veteran players.
Let’s take a look at three players Toronto could still target.
Aaron Hill, Second Baseman, Arizona Diamondbacks
Second base has arguably been the biggest area of weakness in the Blue Jays’ lineup this season. The team doesn’t have a full-time starter at the position and instead relies on a revolving door of utility players to start there on a game-by-game basis based on platoon splits.
Despite having a down year, Aaron Hill would be a welcome upgrade at second base. In 107 games played this season, the 32-year-old has hit .251 with nine home runs and 51 RBI. Since the 2012 season, he has a very impressive slash line of .284/.338/.465.
Hill also played for the Blue Jays from 2005-2011 and won’t have any issues playing defense on the turf at Rogers Centre.
The Diamondbacks (49-65) are likely out of contention this season and could be inclined to move Hill, who is earning $11 million this season and is owed $24 million over the next two years.
Jonathan Papelbon, Right-Handed Pitcher, Philadelphia Phillies
2014 has been a tough season for the Blue Jays’ bullpen. After posting a combined ERA of 3.37 last year, Toronto’s bullpen has a combined ERA of 4.37 this season.
Several relievers that began the season with the team, such as Steve Delabar, Sergio Santos and Esmil Rogers are either no longer with the organization or are in the minors due to underperformance.
This is why acquiring a reliever like Jonathan Papelbon would be a huge boost to Toronto’s embattled relief corps and would finally give the team a reliable arm to pitch during high-leverage situations.
Papelbon is in the midst of another fine season. In 47 innings pitched this season, the right-handed pitcher has a microscopic ERA of 1.71 while amassing 26 saves.
The 33-year-old also has experience pitching in the American League East, spending seven seasons with the Boston Red Sox from 2005-2011.
Papelbon’s salary could be a concern, though. He’s earning $13 million this season and is set to earn $13 million next year as well. He also has a vesting option for $13 million for the 2016 season. Unless the Phillies are willing to eat some of Papelbon’s salary, a trade could be hard to materialize.
Gordon Beckham, Second Baseman, Chicago White Sox
Gordon Beckham isn’t a long-term answer at second base for the Blue Jays, but he would provide some much-needed depth at the position this year.
In 90 games played this season, Beckham has hit a very pedestrian .223/.269/.351 with seven home runs, 35 RBI and 40 runs scored.
But despite his struggles at the plate this season, Beckham has done one thing really well, and that is hitting left-handed pitching. The 27-year-old has hit .315/.357/.472 against southpaws this year.
As a team, the Blue Jays have hit just .246 against left-handed pitchers this season, which ranks them 12th in the AL in that category.
Beckham would give Toronto some much-needed offense from the second base position against left-handed pitchers at the very least.
All stats from Baseball-Reference.com