All offseason long and even into the season, the Toronto Blue Jays have been tied to just about every starting pitcher rumored to be available.
However, a recent report from the Toronto Sun indicates that the team may look to add position player upgrades rather than add pitching to its ranks, given its rotation has been relatively solid this season. However, the question of payroll continues to be a concern for the front office moving forward.
The elephant in the room is whether the Jays can even afford to take on any additional salary, given that the club’s owner, Rogers Communications, would not open its purse strings to sign Ervin Santana this off-season, forcing players to pass the hat and defer future salary in an ill-fated attempt to land the right-hander. If that’s the case, this whole exercise is moot. But Anthopoulos has insisted that if the right deal presents itself, Rogers will give him what he needs. Here’s a look at a few potential trade targets for the Jays leading up to the July 31 deadline.
Players rumored to be connected to Toronto include San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley and Arizona Diamondbacks infielders Martin Prado and Aaron Hill. Other players have been linked to the Blue Jays, but those names include mostly bullpen help.
Both players are under contract through the 2016 season — Prado is owed $22 million over the next two seasons, while Hill is due to receive $24 million — which could be a deterrent, unless Arizona agrees to eat part of their salary. Like Headley, both Prado and Hill have struggled this season compared to their career norms, but would still be seen as an upgrade on the Jays’ other everyday infield options.
Headley, on the other hand, has been declining in recent years – especially since peaking back in 2012. That year, the now-30-year-old first baseman hit 31 home runs and drive in 115 runs while batting .286. However, last season he took a major step backward, hitting just 13 home runs and driving in 50 in 141 games for the Padres. He also saw his average drop almost 30 points. His struggles from a year ago, coupled with the weak start to the 2014 season could help lower his price further – San Diego will almost certainly miss out on landing top prospects in a deal.
Any of these players would likely be offensive upgrades for Toronto, and, as mentioned, the pitching has been much improved, due largely in part to the work of R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle. The latter, a former White Sox hurler, already has 10 wins to go along with his 2.64 ERA. Dickey has bounced back from an up-and-down 2013 campaign to post a respectable 3.82 ERA in 20 outings – 13 of which were recorded as quality starts.
Toronto currently finds itself just four games out of first in the American League East and adding a bat could be enough to push them over the top. Now, it all comes down to money.