- The Blue Jays front office “is split on whether the team should be broken up and traded away,” Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. Team president Mark Shapiro suggested earlier this month that the Jays could explore both buying and selling at the deadline, and more recent reports had the team open to trading pending free agents while preferring to keep players that could help Toronto compete in 2018. Given how several Jays key veterans are either experiencing off-years or could be in decline, it isn’t surprising that there are questions as to whether the Jays can reasonably count on these players to rebound. A big sell-off at the deadline would help replenish the farm system, though with some good controllable talent and one more year of Josh Donaldson under contract, one can also make a case that the Jays should make another push next year.
This is the second trade of the day for the Blue Jays, who picked up utilityman Rob Refsnyder from the Yankees earlier this afternoon. Like Refsnyder, Tepesch should only be a minor contributor for the Blue Jays – if he contributes anything, that is. Tepesch made one start this season in Minnesota, on May 6, and yielded seven runs (one earned) on five hits and two walks over 1 2/3 innings. The Twins released the 28-year-old a month later, but he quickly re-upped on a minor league contract. Tepesch logged 29 innings with the Twins’ Triple-A affiliate this year and recorded a 5.59 ERA, 8.38 K/9 and 2.79 BB/9.
At one point in his career, Tepesch was a passable back-end starter in Texas, where he posted a 4.56 ERA, 5.42 K/9, 2.92 BB/9 and a 43.9 percent ground-ball rate across 219 frames (39 starts, 42 appearances) from 2013-14. Tepesch hasn’t been nearly that effective since, though, so it’s doubtful he’ll do much at the major league level with his new organization.
The 26-year-old Refsnyder had been in limbo since the Yankees designated him for assignment on Wednesday, which came after a disappointing tenure in pinstripes. Refsnyder, whom New York chose in the fifth round of the 2012 draft, collected 262 major league plate appearances with the franchise and batted just .241/.312/.332. On the plus side, Refsnyder garnered big league experience at first, second and in the corner outfield with the Yankees, and he slashed a solid .292/.372/.424 in 1,244 PAs as a member of their Triple-A affiliate. Refsnyder also comes with a minor league option, so the Blue Jays could use him as depth in Toronto or stash him in Triple-A.
McBroom, meanwhile, won’t help solve the Yankees’ issues at first base this year. The 25-year-old hasn’t ascended past Double-A since the Jays took him in the 15th round of the 2014 draft, and his numbers at that level this season aren’t exactly eye-popping. Across 392 PAs, McBroom has batted a less-than-stellar .243/.321/.402. If McBroom carves out a major league future, it’ll likely be as a platoon player, according to MLB.com, which ranked him as the 30th-best prospect in Toronto’s system.
The Blue Jays have announced that they’ve activated righty Joe Smith (shoulder) from the DL and recalled righty Chris Smith. To clear roster space, they’ve placed righty Aaron Sanchez on the DL with blister issues and designated lefty Jeff Beliveau for assignment.
This will be the fourth time finger problems have resulted in DL trips for Sanchez this season. He was reportedly to visit a hand specialist to discuss the issue Friday, so that he’d land on the DL yet again comes as little surprise. The 25-year-old has managed just eight starts this season, posting a 4.25 ERA, 6.0 K/9 and 5.0 BB/9 over 36 innings.
The 30-year-old Beliveau struggled in 19 relief outings with the Jays, posting a 7.47 ERA, 9.8 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 over 15 2/3 innings. He has also pitched with the Cubs and Rays in a big-league career spanning parts of five seasons. Aaron Loup will remain as the only lefty reliever on the Jays’ active roster.
- The Blue Jays have outrighted righty Lucas Harrell to Triple-A, per a club announcement. He’ll have the option of rejecting that assignment. Harrell, 32, turned in six solid starts at Triple-A before earning a call-up, but was knocked around in his four appearances with the Jays.
- The Blue Jays have received “some feelers” about Jose Bautista, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports (Twitter links). Much of Toronto’s trade discussions to this point have focused around their pending free agents (i.e. Marco Estrada, Francisco Liriano, Joe Smith) though Bautista probably falls into this category as well, since the Jays seem unlikely to exercise their half of a $17MM mutual option for 2018. Bautista’s production has fallen off this season, as the veteran slugger is hitting just .227/.340/.402 with 16 homers over 415 PA. A trade is further complicated by Bautista’s trade veto rights as a 10-and-5 player, though one would think he would be interested in joining a contender.
The Pirates are on a roll in the NL Central, having just swept the division-leading Brewers in a four-game series. Even prior to today’s win, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports wrote in his weekly notes column that Pittsburgh not only continues to look unlikely to trade Gerrit Cole but is now also unlikely to deal outfielder Andrew McCutchen, who has undergone a remarkable turnaround at the plate since late May.
- The Tigers appear all but entirely unwilling to move young starter Michael Fulmer, per Heyman. That’s largely unsurprising, though perhaps it might have been expected that the club would at least entertain some scenarios in the interest of covering all its bases. While he’d surely draw a major haul, it would probably be tough for the team to part with its best asset while so many expensive veterans remain under contract. Meanwhile, Heyman notes that shortstop Jose Iglesias could be had for the right price, though it’s hard to see that coming together with such limited demand at the position.
- Though the White Sox are clearly in the midst of another aggressive sale, Heyman writes that there are no plans to move Jose Abreu at this time. The slugger is in the midst of a fine season, but there’s a limited market for first base help at this time. With another two years of control beyond this season, the ChiSox will perhaps have more opportunistic times to market him. Derek Holland, on the other hand, could very well be moved in the coming week, and the South Siders would like to move Melky Cabrera as well but would probably need to pay down most of the remainder of this year’s $15MM salary.
- The Indians are a possible landing spot for Jay Bruce, as their offense is currently without the injured Lonnie Chisenhall and Jason Kipnis. The Mets are known to be looking to move Bruce, and it’s worth noting that USA Today’s Bob Nightengale recently reported that Cleveland was in the mix for slugger J.D. Martinez right up until the time he was traded.
- With limited trade partners for Yonder Alonso — especially following the Yankees’ acquisition of Todd Frazier — the Athletics once again touched base with Yonder Alonso’s reps at MVP Sports about an extension, per Heyman. They’ll circle back again and do so later this week as the two sides attempt to find a middle ground. Oakland is in the midst of an all-out rebuild, as executive vice president of baseball ops Billy Beane recently indicated, but Alonso could provide some leadership for the team’s younger players. And, if he sustains his breakout through season’s end and into 2018, he could certainly become a marketable asset in the future when there’s more of a need at his position.
- The Rangers aren’t likely to re-sign Yu Darvish after the season, Heyman writes, as Darvish’s camp has already thrown out Stephen Strasburg’s seven-year, $175MM contract as a potential comp. Texas isn’t prepared to bid that highly to retain Darvish, which is why they’ve at least signaled to teams that they’ll listen to offers on Darvish if they struggle too much between now and the deadline. There’s no plan to move Cole Hamels at this time, though, he adds.
- While the Diamondbacks may have made their biggest move already, the club is still looking at ways to bolster the pitching staff. Heyman pegs Blue Jays righty Marco Estrada as a possibility, though it’s unclear if he’s actively under consideration. It’s fair to wonder, too, whether the club would be better suited to focusing on bullpen help — though, of course, looking at starters doesn’t preclude that possibility.
- While the Cubs have made at least some contact with the Athletics on righty Sonny Gray even since acquiring Jose Quintana, Heyman says that it’s not at all clear that Chicago will be “a strong player” for another controllable starter.
- With Jaime Garcia seemingly going off the board, there ought to be greater focus now on Phillies righty Jeremy Hellickson. He ought to be easier to obtain now than he was last year, Heyman notes, as the Phils are willing to hold onto at least some of his $17.2MM salary to improve the prospect return.
Blue Jays righty Aaron Sanchez left his start today after coming down with another blister, as MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports (Twitter links). While the 25-year-old says he is holding out hope of avoiding another DL stint, that may be optimistic. Sanchez had only just returned from a lengthy absence prompted by the same injury, though it does not appear to have occurred in precisely the same place. Ongoing uncertainty with such a key player doesn’t help the already murky outlook for Toronto, which fell to eight games under .500 with a loss today. It seems reasonable at this point to anticipate at least a minor sell-off of short-term veterans, though most of the players the team would be most willing to move have struggled in 2017.
Signed to a minor league pact this offseason, the 32-year-old Harrell made his way to the Jays’ big league roster earlier this month and made four appearances out of the bullpen. In 6 1/3 innings, Harrell yielded five runs on 10 hits and four walks with six strikeouts, resulting in an unsightly 7.11 ERA. He’s had a nice season for the Jays’ Triple-A affiliate in limited action, though, pitching to a 2.11 ERA with a 15-to-8 K/BB ratio through 21 1/3 innings.
Harrell logged a 4.21 ERA in 47 innings between the Braves and Rangers last season and has totaled 455 big league innings to date. In that time, he has a career 4.81 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9 between the White Sox, Astros, Braves, Rangers and Jays. The veteran seems fairly likely to make it through waivers, at which point he could either accept or reject an outright assignment back to Triple-A. However, a team in need of some short-term rotation depth or long relief could opt to grab Harrell and plug him into the 25-man roster.
The Blue Jays are receiving interest from the Brewers and other teams in left-hander J.A. Happ, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter links), though it is “highly unlikely” that the Jays will trade the southpaw since Toronto plans to compete in 2018.
Milwaukee has been aggressive in pursuing deadline upgrades, as the team has been linked to such names as Sonny Gray, Brad Hand and (the since-traded) Jose Quintana in recent days. GM David Stearns recently stated that his club’s strong preference is to obtain players who are under contract beyond just this season, and Happ fits that bill, owed $13MM in 2018 as well as roughly $4.7MM remaining on his 2017 salary. While a controllable pitcher of Happ’s ability is naturally of interest to many teams in general, Rosenthal notes that teams are particularly looking at Happ in part because this winter’s free agent class is thin on front-of-the-rotation starters.
Happ was seen as more of a reliable innings-eater than as a possible ace when he signed a three-year, $36MM deal with Toronto in the 2015-16 offseason, though the left-handed enjoyed the best season of his 11-year career in 2016, posting a 3.18 ERA over 195 innings and finishing sixth in the AL Cy Young Award voting. Elbow inflammation has limited to Happ to just 11 starts and 61 innings this year, though he has been on pace for even better numbers than in 2016, delivering a 3.54 ERA, 8.9 K/9 and 4.29 K/BB rate.
Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro suggested earlier this month that the Jays weren’t planning a major sell-off at the deadline, nor were they going to pursue rental players in an attempt at a postseason berth that is looking increasingly unlikely (the Jays took a 42-48 record into action today). Recent reports suggest that Toronto will be open to moving pending free agents like Joe Smith, Marco Estrada, Francisco Liriano or J.P. Howell, but perhaps not any notable pieces who are under contract beyond this season.