Blue Jays trade deadline preview: Biggest needs, possible matches, Toronto’s best trade chips

The Toronto Blue Jays had high hopes for the 2022 season. They were a modern pick to win the AL East, but that’s not going to happen short of a historic comeback. But the Jays still have their sights set on a World Series title, which is actually much more possible than the division at this point.

Expectations are part of the reason manager Charlie Montoyo was fired earlier this month. The Blue Jays were fresh off a terrible stretch of nine losses in 10 games before Montoyo got the shutout (they won his last game, so they technically closed out the streak 2-9). They went into the All-Star break having won five of six and then were ready for the second half.

The Blue Jays are currently in a playoff position, and given how they’ve handled the season, they’ll likely be aggressive in buying before the Aug. 2 deadline.

needs

It needs tilting that needs to be supported. The Jays have a pair of aces in Alec Manoa and Kevin Gausman. Ross Stripling was also very good, but after that things get dark. Will Jose Berrios return to All-Star form? He’s been terrible all year. Hyun-jin Ryu is out for the season. Yusei Kikuchi had a poor season and is now injured. If young Max Castillo has a breakout year, that would help.

They were in the bottom third in bullpen ERA for most of the season and had 17 saves. If Stripling could be moved back into the bullpen, that would be a boost. They could also use a pair of one-inning relievers to add depth and stop relying on the soft underbelly.

Heading into the deadline, the offense was third in the AL in runs, first in average, second in on-base percentage and second in hits. They also had weaker players in Bo Bichette and (maybe) Matt Chapman. We know that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is capable of more because he did a lot more last season as well. All this means is that they should not add on the player’s position side. However, upgrades can never hurt to have them.

Potential targets

First, we’ll list a non-commercial one. Former Mets outfielder Michael Conforto was a free agent last offseason and never signed. At one point there was word that he would have season-ending shoulder surgery and re-examine free agency. Now, however, it appears that his agent, Scott Boras, is saying that Conforto may be able to help a team this season. In a report from Jon Heyman, Boras said that every team interested in Conforto “except one” is from the United States, which apparently means the Jays have made inquiries.

The big fish of this trade deadline could very well be Juan Soto if the Nationals end up dealing him. What a lethal lineup this could be in the postseason with Soto and Vlad Jr. batting side-by-side. As I said, even if there isn’t a clear need in the outfield — or the DH spot if room is made for Soto in right — there is a clear upgrade on the market and every effort should be made to acquire him.

As for targeting…

Luis Castillo and Frankie Montas are the best starting options and either of them will work beautifully here. We should note that it seems incredibly unlikely that the Jays will be able to land Soto and one of those first line starters though.

Additionally, Reds starter Tyler Male, Pirates left fielder Jose Quintana, A’s All-Star Paul Blackburn or a reunion with Noah Syndergaard (who was drafted by Toronto) could work. Even further down sit the Cubs with Drew Smillie.

If they can’t find a starter, perhaps a strong emphasis on the bullpen — along with the hope for better versions of Berríos and Kikuchi — will be the route. David Robertson, David Bednar, Michael Fulmer and others will be on hand.

Potential trading chips

If we’re talking about the big league roster, Kavan Biggio looks like a realistic player that could be flipped. He’s hit pretty well since coming back from the minors in late May, has good on-base numbers and isn’t a regular starter here at age 27 when everyone else is healthy. He is a good candidate for a change of scenery.

On the farm side, the Blue Jays no longer rank highly after some high-profile graduations from the system over the past few seasons (Guerrero and Bichette at the top).

Their top prospect is catcher Gabriel Moreno, and the Jays have an All-Star starter in Alejandro Kirk. The number two prospect is shortstop Orelvis Martinez and they are good there with Bichette as well. However, Kirk spends a lot of time at DH, and Martinez can play third base, so it’s possible the Jays may be reluctant to deal one or both of these prospects. Still, expect their names to be announced in the next two weeks.

Leave a Comment