20 Potential Players The Toronto Blue Jays Could Target
The Toronto Blue Jays brain-trust are weighing their options and calculating their risks in an attempt to bolster the Jays current roster before the looming trade deadline. Speculation has been swirling with baseball prognosticators pressing for a lead on a rumor or possible pending transaction laden with prospects. The Jays were caught asleep at the wheel not willing to pony up the prospects or finances for the likes of Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel or Brandon McCarthy. Alex Anthopoulos and company will now have to look off the grid if the Blue Jays are going to make a move to become a contender or sit tight and remain a perennial pretender. Only time will tell.
Here are 20 possible players who the Blue Jays may find attractive in an attempt to shore up their middle infield or rotation for the post-season push.
1. David Price- We will get this out of the way first; the Jays are NOT going to acquire the former CY Young winner as they would have to absolutely deplete the entire farm system to get it done. Say goodbye to Marcus Stroman, Daniel Norris and Aaron Sanchez if Price comes north of the border. The Rays never flinched when the Athletics dangled Addison Russell before shipping him to the windy city. The 28-year old Price is signed through next season for a bargain at $14 million and currently sports a 3.48 earned run average in 19 starts this season.
2. Ben Zobrist- While we are talking about the Rays, Zobrist could be a versatile option for the Jays. Zobrist has predominately played second base this season but can play shortstop, third base and the corner outfield positions. The 33-year old has a team option next season for $7.5 million which could make him expendable if the Rays do not plan on picking up the option. Zobrist is batting .264 with a .753 OPS and 6 homers in 77 games this season. The switch-hitting Zobrist hits lefties to the tune of .281 in 561 career games.
3. Martin Prado- The Jays were rumored to be in talks with the Arizona Diamondbacks earlier this week. Prado is an interesting piece but comes with 2 years remaining for a combined $22 million on the books. Prado much like Zobrist is very versatile with the ability to play all four infield positions as well as the outfield. The 30-year old got off to a slow start but is batting .264 with a .671 OPS and three round trippers. Prado has great career splits hitting righties at .293 and lefties at an equally impressive .286 clip.
4. Aaron Hill- The former Blue Jays first-rounder was mentioned in the Prado banter earlier in the week. The 32-year old rejuvenated his career in the desert winning a Silver Slugger award in 2012. Hill would be familiar with the Rogers Centre turf if a reunion was matriculated however the second baseman is struggling batting .241 with a .637 OPS and only 6 home runs thus far this season. Like Prado, Hill is owed $24 million over the next two seasons albeit he is two years older than his teammate.
5. Chase Headley- This rumour has gained some steam over the last day or so as Jon Morosi reported the Jays and Padres were in serious talks for the services of Headley. The 30-year old third baseman has never been able to re-capture the glory he enjoyed in 2012 where he finished 5th in National League MVP voting. This season is no different as Headley is batting .217 with an unimpressive .628 OPS and 6 round trippers. The oft-injured Headley is also battling a herniated disc in his back and is a free agent at seasons end. The Jays may be willing to gamble on the health of Headley seeing his contract comes off the books at seasons end. I am interested to see what the Padres would require in return for his services but could be a low-risk option that may benefit from a change in scenery.
Talks between Padres, Blue Jays on Chase Headley remain ongoing, source says. Toronto’s need increased in light of Encarnacion injury.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 7, 2014
6. Gordon Beckham- His name surfaced as a possible player the Chicago White Sox would be willing to move. Beckham would slide nicely into the Blue Jays lineup solidifying the second base gap instantly. Beckham is owed over $4 million this season and would be arbitration eligible this off-season. The 27-year old is batting .248 with a .698 OPS and 7 big flies in 66 contests. Beckham’s best power output came in 2012 where he clobbered 16 homers and knocked in 60.
7. Cole Hamels- The Philadelphia Phillies may finally begin to rebuild seeing there nestled firmly in the basement of the NL East. Hamels would give the Jays a legitimate front of the rotation starter but comes with a lofty price-tag. The 30-year old lefty is owed $90 million over the next 4 seasons with a $20 million team option for 2019. Hamels has been sharp since returning from the disabled list posting a 2.98 earned run average in 14 starts this season. I have a good feeling that Hamels contract will be too rich for the Blue Jays to take on at this juncture.
8. Cliff Lee- is currently on the disabled list with an elbow injury but is due back after the All-Star break once he completes his rehab stint. Lee has only made 10 starts this season earning a 3.18 earned run average before heading to the DL. Lee is a veteran work-horse and is owed $25 million in 2015 with a vesting option for ’16 that includes a lofty $12.5 million buyout. Lee is no stranger to be traded and could be moved to boost a rotation for somebody even if the Jays aren’t biting.
9. Travis Wood- The Chicago Cubs are moving all their assets for future pieces and Wood could be a cheaper sleeper piece for the Jays. Wood had a career year last season pitching his way to a 3.11 earned run average even-though it is elevated this season over 4.00. Wood is arbitration eligible this off-season and a nice fit if the Cubs don’t try to pillage the Jays for all their prospects in a return.
10. Ian Kennedy- The prospects of obtaining Andrew Cashner or Tyson Ross are more appealing but highly unlikely as the Padres gear up for a re-build. Kennedy is having a nice season with a 3.87 earned run average fanning 116 in 109 innings pitched. The 29-year old is also arbitration eligible after earning just over $6 million this season. Kennedy should come cheaper than the Samardzija’s of the world and would settle neatly near the front of the Jays rotation. Kennedy could be packaged with Headley tying up all the Jays loose ends with one deal.
11. Tim Stauffer- is a poor man’s J.A. Happ but could bring some veteran presence to the staff. The former 1st rounder would come cheap having only started 3 games in his 23 appearances this season. The 9-year veteran still whiffs more than a batter an inning and has a career 3.93 earned run average in 73 career starts. He could add some depth in the event Happ or Marcus Stroman falters.
12. Scott Feldman- The Astros will surely be sellers at the deadline poised to continue their youth movement. Feldman is owed $18 million over the next two seasons but is somewhat of a value in today’s day in age. Feldman has had a decent season for the Astros posting a 4-5 record with a respectable 3.86 earned run average and a 1.286 WHIP. Jose Altuve would be worth the hefty price-tag but I am assuming the Astros would hang up shortly after his name was muttered.
13. Adrian Beltre- The aging veteran has rebounded nicely after a slow-start with the stick and even at 35 is still a defensive master with the glove at the hot corner. An acquisition of Beltre would shift Brett Lawrie to second base shoring up the infield much to the dismay of Lawrie. Beltre is batting .333 with a .898 OPS and 11 home runs for the injury riddled Rangers.
14. John Danks- The 29-year old Danks is in his 8th season with the White Sox and may be dangled as trade bait. The White Sox could free up $28.5 million on the remaining two years on Danks contract. The lefty is 7-6 with a 4.12 earned run average in 17 starts this season. Jose Quintana would be a better piece but the White Sox went public today reassuring that Santana is staying put.
15. Jorge De La Rosa- The Rockies have 3 of their starting 5 pitchers on the disabled list and seemed destined for futility in the second half. De La Rosa could be an interesting addition as he is a free agent at season’s end and is one year removed from a career year that saw him go 16-6 with a 3.49 earned run average in the launching pad at Coors Field. So far this season the 33-year old is 9-6 with a 4.75 earned run average fanning 70 batters in 96 innings of work. The price for in terms of dollars would make sense for the cash-strapped Blue Jays.
16. Josh Rutledge- The 25-year old can play second, third and shortstop however struggles against southpaws batting .237 as opposed to .270 against righties. Rutledge has 203 games to his credit over the course of 3-seasons batting .287 with a .797 OPS in 42 games this year. Rutledge earned just over $500,000 this year and lost playing time with the emergence of DJ LeMahieu. Another cheap option if the Jays are penny pinching at the deadline.
17. Daniel Murphy- The Jays have been linked to Murphy in earlier weeks but nothing appears imminent. Murphy is a model of consistency with the bat and again is having a great season for the Metropolitan’s. Murphy is batting .294 with a .758 OPS and 7 homers and 11 stolen bases in 86 games. Murphy is also versatile having played first, second, third and the outfield. Murphy is arbitration eligible and due for a raise in the off-season after earning $5.7 million this year.
18. David Wright- Yes, I know this is a long shot but hear me out. The Mets and Wright seem destined for a divorce with speculation they need a change in leadership. Wright is having an off-year and the Mets owe us dearly for the R.A. Dickey fleecing. Wright could man the hot corner while Lawrie could permanently move to second base. The kicker would be that the 31-year old Wright is owed a modest $117 million over the next 6 seasons. It would be interesting to see what the package would be to acquire the talents of Wright who I am sure has a no-trade clause. Just thinking outside the box here.
19. Brandon Phillips- Since we are throwing around millions, how about the services of Phillips for $39 million over the next three seasons. One thing is for sure the Jays would have the most swagger and smiles of any double play combination in MLB history. Phillips is batting .272 with a .705 OPS and 7 home runs however age seems to have taken a toll on his speed having swiped only 1 bag in 4 attempts this season. Phillips name pops up in trade-talks from time to time and could become available if the Reds fall off the pace.
20. Mike Leake- Again if the Reds falter and decide to sell, Leake could be a cheaper option than that of some of the other hurlers mentioned. Leake is 6-7 with a 3.47 earned run average striking out 88 in 114 innings pitched thus far. He is owed $5.925 million this season and eligible for arbitration this off-season. The Reds have a plethora of interesting high priced starters in Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey and Matt Latos if the Reds decide to go in another direction.
Knowing Anthopoulos he will acquire players never rumored or on anyone’s trade radar but here is a list of potential candidates that could help the Jays over the hump. The question is how much money are the Jays willing to spend and how willing are they to deplete the prospect cupboard for chance at the post-season?