The Blue Jays have already pulled off one trade, acquiring righty Taijuan Walker from the Mariners to bolster their rotation, but it seems they hope to add more players in the remaining three days before Monday afternoon’s trade deadline. “I would expect us to be extremely active,” general manager Ross Atkins told reporters following yesterday’s acquisition of Walker (Twitter link via TSN’s Scott Mitchell). That certainly doesn’t guarantee an additional move or moves, but if the Walker swap proves to be their only addition, it won’t be for lack of trying.
Per Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith, Atkins went on to emphasize that his club’s focus will continue to be on pitching and run prevention. Supplementing the lineup sounds like more of a secondary goal at the moment, although Atkins noted the possibility of adding a defensive upgrade who also adds some punch on the offensive side of the coin.
With Walker joining Hyun Jin Ryu, Tanner Roark and Chase Anderson in the Toronto rotation, there’s still space for the Jays to pick up another rotation piece if they desire. They’d hoped top prospect Nate Pearson would step into the rotation and seize a spot, but he struggled in his two final starts before going on the injured list with what was eventually diagnosed as a flexor strain. Whether he’ll return in 2020 isn’t known, and while the Jays have some upper-level depth that could step into that vacant fifth slot, there’s some sense in picking up another more established arm — particularly if said arm is controlled beyond 2020. They’ve been linked to Trevor Williams and Chad Kuhl in Pittsburgh, but they’re just two of many options to explore.
As far as the defense goes, there are myriad possibilities to explore. Simple bench options like Jarrod Dyson or Billy Hamilton could add a late-inning outfield boost to support an already thriving bullpen. A more impactful defender, Andrelton Simmons, is likely available given that the Angels are well out of contention and he, like Walker, is a free agent at season’s end. The Jays are currently without Bo Bichette and could conceivably slide him over to second or third upon returning in that scenario. Help behind the plate could come in the form of Pittsburgh’s Jacob Stallings or a more established all-around presence like Christian Vazquez (if Boston is willing to deal within the division). All of that is speculative, of course; the overall possibilities are expansive.
Whatever route they choose to pursue upgrade, the Blue Jays look to have an increasingly clear path to a postseason berth in this year’s expanded format. At 15-14, they’re in possession of the No. 8 seed in the American League, and the teams most closely trailing them are the Tigers and Orioles — each of whom is likelier to sell assets between now and Monday than to add. Forgive the cliche, but the Jays even control their own destiny to an extent in that regard, as they’re scheduled to open a four-game set against Baltimore tonight that could put further distance between the two teams in the standings. The Tigers, meanwhile open a four-game series against the first-place Twins.