Over the winter people marveled at the team the Toronto Blue Jays were assembling. They imported the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey, brought in Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and Emilio Bonafacio from the Miami Marlins. However, the Blue Jays find themselves 14 games out of first place with a 46-55 record and own a -28 run differential. The season has hardly gone the way most have expected. Could the Blue Jays become surprise sellers at the trade deadline in a market that is lacking impact players?
With Buehrle, Dickey and Johnson all having sub-par years it is unlikely the Blue Jays would get too much in return, certainly not anywhere near what the Blue Jays gave up. Jose Reyes is having a nice season and he could fetch a decent prospect or two in return but the Blue Jays have shown no inclination they are willing to deal him.
The real value on the Blue Jays resides in the bullpen where Casey Janssen, Steve Delabar and Brett Cecil are having All-Star seasons. Relief pitchers figure to be at the top of many team’s wish lists as the trade deadline nears and the Blue Jays could take advantage of a market that wouldn’t feature two relief pitchers having seasons like Delabar and Cecil. Janssen has the proven closer label which tends to inflate the return on relievers in trades.
The Blue Jays could move one or two relievers without sacrificing their ability to compete next season. Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos stated before this season he saw a limited window to compete in the AL East and went all out to make that possible. Anthopoulos didn’t expect the Boston Red Sox to turn things around so quickly or the Baltimore Orioles to be more than a flash in the pan. Even a weakened New York Yankees team is hanging around a playoff spot.
The window that Anthopoulos thought was there has been slammed in his face. Still, he can’t go into full sell mode because that would be admitting defeat. What he can do is take advantage of a couple of good season by two of his middle relievers and turn them into some useful pieces moving forward.
Even putting a bat or two on the market would go a long way. Colby Rasmus could bring a nice return as he is having a solid season hitting .266/.332/.478 with 16 home runs. Even Emilio Bonafacio, who is only hitting .211/.251/.307, could bring in a somewhat decent prospect given his past performance and versatility.
The Blue Jays can hold onto all of their pieces and hope the team, especially the starting pitching, puts it together next season. There is enough talent on the team to make a serious run if the pitching can come together. That might be a big if but one that could be worth taking a gamble on since the Blue Jays haven’t made the playoffs since 1993 when they won the World Series. They can keep the core of the team together, however, deal a piece or two and get ready to compete next year.