Blue Jays may hold the keys to trade season
They are not selling yet. They may not sell at all. But the Toronto Blue Jays will be one of the most fascinating teams to watch between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
We learned from the Rays last year that a team can win the American League East without playing 81 games in Back Bay or the Bronx. But we also learned from the Rays last year that a lot has to go right in order for that to happen. And this has not been a season of good fortune for Canada's team.
Six pitchers currently reside on the disabled list, and ace Roy Halladay was a recent visitor. Vernon Wells and Alex Rios, signed through 2014, haven't been hitting. The team is in fourth place and would probably need to climb the standings quickly in order to convince ownership that additions to an $80 million payroll are warranted this month.
Maybe this isn't going to be The Year. No shame in that, particularly in this division. So, unless the standings change quickly, Jays officials should turn their attention to 2010 — which might be their last chance to win with the current cast.
Halladay, third baseman Scott Rolen, first baseman Lyle Overbay and closer Scott Downs will be free agents after that season. The contracts of general manager J.P. Ricciardi and manager Cito Gaston are set to expire then, too.
The guiding philosophy should be a simple one: Do everything possible to help Halladay reach the playoffs as a Blue Jay in 2010. The Jays' best chance to keep Halladay thereafter is to bring postseason baseball back to Toronto for the first time since 1993, proving to him that a championship is attainable for the club.
How can they do it? They might want to start by trading one or two pitchers to bolster an offense that trails the Rays, Yankees and Red Sox in on-base and slugging percentages.