Toronto may be in fourth place looking up at the Red Sox, Yankees and Rays, but they don’t appear to be sitting on their hands waiting. They’ve reportedly been contacting teams about some big-name pitching talent. Wandy Rodriguez, Ubaldo Jimenez and Heath Bell are said to be the names the Jays are pursuing the hardest.
According to Ken Rosenthal, Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos is actively pursuing those pitchers. The Astros’ Rodriguez is the newest name added to the Blue Jays rumors, but as Rosenthal noted, his $13 million club option for 2014 will kick in if he’s traded. That might price him out of the Jays market.
Rosenthal also speculated the Jays might be able to get the Astros to take on more of Rodriguez's salary in exchange for better prospects. That would give the Jays—or another team—a quality arm that’s under team control for several more seasons. Jon Heyman agrees on the price, hearing from a rival GM that for $40 million, “Nobody’s going to touch Wandy.”
As a starter this year, Rodriguez has posted an ERA of 3.60 with a solid WHIP of 1.322 and 7.8 k/9 innings.
Just about every team in baseball is rumored to be after Jimenez, but the Blue Jays are thought to legitimately be pursuing him, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.
Although he faltered down the stretch, Jimenez's 15-1 with a 2.20 ERA he posted in the first half last season still stands out. His numbers haven’t been great this year, but he’s still posted a 3.40 ERA in 45 innings over his last seven starts.
The Rockies have Jimenez signed through 2012 with club options for 2013 and 2014. His contract is very affordable and including options would give him just $19.35 million over the remainder.
Bell is the other pitcher who baseball has been paying a lot of attention to over the trade season. Rosenthal reported Anthopoulos has inquired about Bell.
Bell differs from Jimenez and Rodriguez in that he isn’t under team control past this season. With the Jays current position in the standings, you would think the Jays would be looking for more of a long-term trade instead of a two-month rental.
The MLB non-waiver trade deadline is July 31.