By Todd Singer @breakingbadfish on June 3, 2014
The Toronto Blue Jays are one of the early surprises of the 2014 season, and as a result, they could be looking to augment their roster for a potential playoff push as we get closer to the July 31 trade deadline. The Jays' offense is second in the majors in runs scored and has been a large part of their success, and the pitching has been pretty solid with Mark Buehrle leading the way. The following are five players who Toronto could target.
Jeff Samardzija has been one of the best pitchers in baseball this season, but doesn't have the record to show for it. The Cubs' bullpen and offense have cost several wins for Samardzija, who boasts a 2.54 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP despite only having one win on the season. Outside of Mark Buehrle and possibly Drew Hutchison, the Blue Jays' rotation has had a bunch of question marks, so backing up the truck for Samardzija might be appealing to Toronto.
If Samardzija proves to be too expensive for Toronto's taste, they can look to his teammate, Jason Hammel, who signed a one-year deal with Chicago this offseason after two seasons in Baltimore. He has been one of the big surprises thus far, pitching to a 2.78 ERA and allowing a paltry 5.9 H/9, racking up six wins in his first 11 starts. Hammel would add a degree of stability and experience to the young Jays staff.
Since the Blue Jays traded Aaron Hill to Arizona a few seasons ago, they have struggled to find an adequate replacement. The Jays have been rolling with Brett Lawrie, playing out of position to keep the hot bat of Juan Francisco in play, this season as they search for a long-term replacement. Hill has battled injury issues in the desert, but when healthy, he'd add even more pop to a potent Toronto lineup and would solve the 2B issue.
While Casey Janssen's return has quieted things down at the back of the Toronto bullpen, the Blue Jays could still use another potential lockdown arm as a bridge. While Jonathan Papelbon is not the pitcher he once was, he's still pitching to a 1.61 ERA this season for a mediocre Phillies squad. The Phillies are trying to find any takers to get out of Papelbon's contract, and as such, Toronto could get him without giving up much.
If Toronto is to seriously contend, they need an upgrade at 2B. Chase Utley is a Phillies lifer, but with the team struggling and not getting any younger, it may be time for them to start dealing off some of their more popular veterans for prospects. Utley is a free agent in 2016, but he'd provide talent and experience which could prove invaluable later on.
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