The latest form around the AL East…
- The Blue Jays will be facing a roster crunch when Josh Donaldson returns from the disabled list, Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi writes. The hot-hitting Teoscar Hernandez is the better starting option right now than the slumping Randal Grichuk, though Grichuk is out of options and the Jays don’t want to risk losing him for nothing. The presence of other veterans on pricey contracts (such as Kendrys Morales or Steve Pearce) further creates a positional glut, and demoting Lourdes Gurriel Jr. would leave Toronto without a backup shortstop option. This is just my opinion, but one answer could be to demote Devon Travis, who is hitting just .140/.218/.160 through his first 55 plate appearances. Travis missed most of 2017 due to knee problems and could possibly use some minor league time to get himself back up to speed.
- A trade could also solve the Jays’ roster issues, and Davidi noted that Pearce received some interest during the offseason. After an injury-plagued 2017, Pearce is off to a nice rebound year thus far, hitting .304/.360/.565 over 50 PA as the right-handed hitting side of an outfield platoon with Curtis Granderson. Even with roughly $5.3MM still owed to him this year, Pearce could be attractive to a team looking for a right-handed bat at first base or in the corner outfield. Pearce is a much more viable trade chip than Morales, who is owed $23MM in 2018-19, can only play DH at this point, and is off to another slow start at the plate.
- Blake Swihart’s lack of playing time has created “a cruel catch-22” for the utilityman and the Red Sox, The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey writes (subscription required). Swihart has appeared in 10 of Boston’s first 21 games, with only two of those appearances coming in the starting lineup, and thus he hasn’t done much to enhance his trade value to potential suitors. On the other hand, there isn’t yet any indication that the Sox are open to trading Swihart, as doing so would suddenly leave the team thin at catcher if Christian Vazquez or Sandy Leon got injured. (Though it should also be noted that Swihart has yet to appear behind the plate this season.) Swihart is out of options, and can’t be sent to Triple-A without being exposed to waivers and very likely claimed by another team, so the Sox aren’t going to part ways with the former top prospect without getting anything in return. While not an ideal situation for Swihart, of course, it’s something of a good problem to have for the Red Sox — the reason Swihart isn’t getting more regular playing time is because the rest of Boston’s lineup is on fire amidst an excellent 17-4 start to the season.
- Evaluators from the Cubs and Cardinals were recently on hand to watch the Rays last week, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. The Rays’ limited payroll capability could make them sellers regardless of their record, though the team is also off to a slow 8-13 start overall (though Tampa has won five of its last six games). It isn’t known what players were being watched, though the Cubs have been heavily linked to Chris Archer in the past while the Cardinals had strong interest in Alex Colome this offseason.