The MLB non-waiver trade deadline is four days away, and unless GM Alex Anthopoulos has some tricks up his sleeve, the Blue Jays seem to be firmly ensconced on the ‘seller’ side of the fence. Even with a surprising 51-49 record, the Jays find themselves in their familiar No. 4 spot in the AL East, 13.0 games back in the division and 10.0 games away from the wild card.
But as the team’s core moving forward continues to establish itself, the deadline could provide a key opportunity to further secure Toronto’s future. So who goes? Here’s a breakdown of who appears primed to get shipped out to a contender and which of the contenders may be a fit leading into July 31.
The left-handed set-up man is probably the best reliever on the market and both the Yankees and Red Sox have interest. The appeal of Downs is clear – he offers a steady late game option (2.41 ERA in 46 appearances this season) without any major financial commitment (his three-year, $10 million contract expires after this season. The Jays, meanwhile, don’t see the 34-year old staying with the team to see the peak of the rebuilding effort, making him expendable. Trade negotiations could be interesting for Downs, as Toronto is likely to insist on a big return for the reliever, figuring that they could always get two high draft picks as compensation assuming he signs elsewhere in the off-season as a type-A free agent. However, teams could well be reluctant to pay a high price for a non-closer relief option.
Potential trade partners: Yankees, Red Sox, Twins, Mets and Reds.
I guess interest in the team’s closer depends on which outings other scouts have watched. After all, Gregg rebounded from a pair of blow-ups in Baltimore and Kansas City to post back-to-back saves against Detroit without allowing a runner. For all the negative attention he has garnered for some shaky appearances and an apparent dust-up with Cito Gaston, the right-hander has done exactly what was asked of him – try to earn and hold a spot as the closer of a rebuilding club. Other teams may notice his unimpressive 22 walks and 16 earned runs over 38.2 innings, but they’ll also notice that his 23 saves are good for fourth in the AL. While few squads are looking for potential closers, he could be a nice addition as a set-up man.
Potential trade partners: Twins, Reds and Rockies.
Considering he could have been waived before the season with very few people taking much notice, it’s a testament to Bautista’s breakout campaign that there is much talk in Jays’ circles over whether the league’s home run leader should be traded or kept as part of the team’s future. The question mainly boils down to whether this is a ‘buy low, sell high’ scenario in which the right fielder is unlikely to continue his long ball exploits beyond this season, or if he is a late bloomer only now tapping into his potential. For his part, Anthopoulos is likely to listen to offers without actively dangling Bautista. He will get them, but what kind of offer will be deemed good enough to cough up a guy with 28 home runs in July?
Potential trade partners: Giants, Padres and Tigers.
Like Alex Gonzalez before him, Buck has managed to transform himself into an asset with Toronto after finding little interest as a free agent in the off-season. Also like Gonzalez, Buck could head to a contender with a nice return coming the other way. With so few teams enjoying solid production out of the catching position, many will be willing to make an offer for a player who currently ranks second in homers and third in RBI among the league’s backstoppers. He is also slated to earn less than a million dollars for the remainder of the season and is a free agent at year’s end.
Potential trade partners: Red Sox, Tigers and Phillies.
Teams may come knocking at Anthopoulos’ door for Marcum, but don’t expect him to answer unless he is completely bowled over by an offer. While the right-hander, at 9-4 with a 3.36 ERA this season, could fetch a solid return, he is only 28 and could be a ‘veteran’ voice as part of a young rotation moving forward. The new Jays’ regime has shown a reluctance to part with starting pitching, and Marcum is an established arm who looks like he will hold his value well beyond this season. In other words, even with his name out there, don’t expect him to go anywhere come July 31.
Potential trade partners: Red Sox, Reds and Rockies.
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Written by Ben Fisher