How Different Will the Toronto Blue Jays Look After the Trade Deadline?
There have been many rumours swirling about the Blue Jays, suggesting who they might be moving before the July 31st trade deadline. Names like Scott Downs, Jose Bautista, John Buck, and Kevin Gregg are all being mentioned as possible trade chips. The rumour mill on ESPN even suggests that they might be buyers. So what are Jays fans supposed to draw from all of this?
Well, it certainly suggests that GM Alex Anthopoulos isn't content to sit back and hope that the Jays regain the top spot in the American League East. Toronto is currently 12.5 games back from the Yankees in the division and 9.5 back from the Tampa Bay Rays for the Wild Card spot. So, although they might gain on Boston, due to all the injuries the team has sustained lately, it is unlikely that Tampa and New York would struggle enough in the second half for the Jays to overtake them.
If the Jays are buyers, as ESPN suggests, who might they be after, and are they still dealing these names that are mentioned? The Jays look like they are set with their pitching rotation, although Jesse Litsch has been struggling, so they could be after another arm with perhaps a little more experience. But this seems unlikely, considering the young pitching depth that the Jays have.
So in what positions could the Jays use an upgrade? Well, they have a few set positions right now filled in by the players that the team is going to build around. Aaron Hill, Adam Lind, Travis Snider, and now Yunel Escobar are the Jays' future and Vernon Wells is signed long-term and seems to be the leader of the club. Both Fred Lewis and Jose Bautista are young enough and play important roles that could allow them to be a part of the Jays' building.
Then you have Brett Wallace and J.P. Arencibia tearing up Triple-A ball, waiting to get called up to fill first base and catcher. So what does that leave? Well, if Snider takes over right field in his return, that pushes Bautista to third base, which leaves Edwin Encarnacion the odd man out. Encarnacion certainly has a powerful bat, and he is heating up lately with a nine-game hit streak, but on defense is where he struggles. So if it is between Bautista and his league-leading 27 home runs, and Encarnacion's streaky play, you can likely figure out who is going to win that competition.
Of course, this still doesn't determine in which area the Jays need to improve the most, and if they were to be buyers, what would they be looking for? With Snider's inexperience, and Lewis' streaky play at times, the team could be after another outfielder who could hit for average and be a threat on the base paths. There is also the possibility that Wallace could still use some seasoning in the minors, and with Overbay becoming a free agent at the end of this year, they could deal their current first baseman for a more long-term solution, like they did in acquiring Escobar.
Granted, this all seems rather unlikely. The Jays are attempting to go with a youth movement right now and seem to want to allow their players to develop, and give their prospects a chance. So if they make any moves, it would likely be dealing their veterans on expiring contracts for more prospects. If ESPN is right, and they want to be buyers, you can be sure that they would be pursuing a player signed for several years. There is no sense in the Jays acquiring more players with expiring contracts for what would seem like an unlikely playoff run.
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