The Toronto Blue Jays are in a somewhat uncomfortable position. The expanded playoffs provide them hope of qualifying to October baseball, but that is far from a sure thing, and the smart money is on them not sacrificing pieces for their contention window. In other words, they probably don’t have what it takes to compete with the American League powerhouses this year, but it is unclear if they are going to give it a shot anyway. The most likely scenario, is that they stay the course and maybe flip a piece or two for prospects.
They are currently 8-11, as of Tuesday afternoon, 6.5 games away from the first-place Yankees. When it comes to starting pitchers, they don’t match particularly well with the Bombers.
Hyun-Jin Ryu just signed a long-term deal with Toronto, and he is expected to be the ace for 2020 and the next three seasons. Right in line with the peak of several young stars such as Vladimir Guererro, Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette and company.
Trent Thornton, Tanner Roark, Chase Anderson and Matt Shoemaker probably don’t move the needle too much for the Yankees, and it’s crystal-clear that young phenom Nate Pearson isn’t going anywhere.
If the Yankees and Blue Jays are going to be a trade match, it will most likely be for a reliever. Anthony Bass took over as closer while the injured Ken Giles (a trade target for New York in the past) rehabs. He’s been pitching well since his Cubs days in 2018, and this year, he has a 3.00 ERA and a 3.90 FIP in nine innings.
Jordan Romano (0.90 ERA, 3.02 FIP, 35.1 K% in 10.0 frames) has been very effective this year with a deadly fastball-slider combo. Not only does he strike people out, but he also keeps the ball on the ground (65.0 GB%). Romano doesn’t have a long track record of success, so hep profiles as a nice gamble should the Blue Jays make him available.
Other arms that could interest the Yankees are Ryan Borucki and Anthony Kay, although the latter is a piece for the future that the Blue Jays most likely won’t want to deal. Borucki is also young, at 26, so it would require a good offer.
When it comes to relievers, the Blue Jays’ biggest name, which is Giles, is currently out with a forearm injury and thus unavailable. The rest of the discussed hurlers are good, but if the Yankees are going into the reliever market prior to the deadline, they will probably want to target heavier names.
They could also explore a trade for infielder Travis Shaw. Although he is coming from a down 2019 in which he slashed .157/.281/.270, he was very good in 2017 and 2018 with the Brewers, amassing 7.1 fWAR between the two seasons. Shaw shouldn’t cost much, since he is on a one-year deal, and can help cover around the infield for the Yankees, since he has experience at first, second and third.
It is possible, however, that the Bombers choose to deploy one of the homegrown guys, such as Tyler Wade and Thairo Estrada, while DJ LeMahieu is out. If they want some pop and versatility, they could look at Shaw. Given the Yankees’ recent track record of working with talented but flawed hitters and turning them into legitimate offensive weapons (it happened with Luke Voit, Gio Urshela, Aaron Hicks and others) it could make sense to give Shaw a shot.
All in all, the Blue Jays have a couple of pieces that could be available and interest the Yankees at the same time, but they don’t seem to be the best match out there for a trade.