Entering the weekend the Toronto Blue Jays are 12-11 and with that expanded playoffs are in contention for the last spot, holding a game ahead of the Orioles and 2.5 over the Texas Rangers.
Toronto is an exciting team that uniquely can field an infield entirely comprised of sons of former MLB players. Around the horn of Travis Shaw, Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, and Vlad Guerrero is the answer to the trivia question.
None of those four are pitchers by trade, and that is what the team needs.
Unlike the Angels, which totally ignored its offseason needs, the Blue Jays did try to fill the rotation holes. It just has no panned out and the team needs to shake up its pitching group to maintain, or improve its playoff positioning.
Winter additions of Hyun-Jin Ryu, Chase Anderson, Tanner Roark, and Japanese right-hander Shun Yamaguchi made the Blue Jays, and their fans, believe that the previous weakness would work out. Execs also anticipated the return of Matt Shoemaker to go with the emergence of top prospect Nate Pearson and recently acquired Anthony Kay, making it an abundance of new pieces to fit in.
The collective is right in the middle of the road in the American League with a 4.01 ERA but has been hurt with free passes, allowing the 6th most in the circuit.
Here are a few targets that could help the Blue Jays:
Lance Lynn and Mike Minor: Both Rangers arms could be available if the team decides that it isn’t in a position to actually make noise in the playoffs — which it wouldn’t be, if it makes it. Lynn has had a career reinvigoration with Texas, in a season-plus, he has been 19-11 with a 3.11 following two years with the Yankees and Twins where he was left for dead after a combined 10-10 record and an ERA nearly 5. He is on an affordable contract through 2021, which could land a solid prospect back. Minor was seemingly on a similar trajectory after a career year with Texas in 2019 that saw him make his first All-Star game, and collect 200 strikeouts for the first time in his career. This year he is 0-4 with a 6.94 ERA through five starts. It is also the last season of his contract, so Texas would be selling low, but could find something better than nothing if they do not plan to re-sign him, making the risk Toronto’s.
Kevin Gausman and Johnny Cueto: The Giants are 11-16 and have one of the oldest rosters in baseball. It needs to start restocking shelves in the minors and moving one of these arms could make sense. Gausman was tied to the Blue Jays in the offseason before signing in San Francisco, so the interest from the front office may make that an easy decision. Gausman is continuing to be what is in with the Giants, a decent starter that will eat some innings. Some games he will be dominant and some games he will get bombed. He has pitched in the AL East and so that is an advantage for him. Being on a one-year contract likely limits his return but could make it easier to move him, too. Aside from 2016, Cueto has been a disaster for the Giants. Injuries has kept him off the rubber and has made his contract an albatross. He has another year and an option for 2022 that the Giants may have to eat some of to get better prospects, but it could be interesting for the Blue Jays to roll the dice for perhaps, two-plus years of Cueto.
Dylan Bundy: As mentioned in that Angels piece above, Bundy is having a solid enough season that the team could try and sell him off while he is playing well. Bundy, like Gausman, is a former Oriole and has pitched many years in the AL East. He is also on a low-cost, one-year deal. His 3-2, 2.48 ERA start to the season is the best of all options, save for Lynn, and could make for an interesting addition.
Those five may make the most sense but expect other names to get rolled around at the deadline.
Jeff Samardzija, Taijuan Walker, Alex Cobb, Matt Boyd, Derek Holland, Robbie Ray, Drew Smyly, and Jordan Yamamoto.
The MLB Deadline is Aug. 31.