According to a report from Ken Rosenthal, there was a strong "scouting presence" at two of the Blue Jays minor league games on Tuesday.
"High-ranking officials from the Padres, Marlins, Reds, Phillies and Athletics saw right-hander Jeff Hoffman pitch for the Jays' Single-A Dunedin affiliate, according to major league sources. Meanwhile, in Rochester, N.Y., scouts from the Padres, Dodgers, Reds, White Sox and Cubs saw left-hander Daniel Norris pitch for the Jays' Triple-A Buffalo club. "
Rosenthal went on to add that it's not strange to see both Chicago teams have scouts at games in Rochester, and the Reds' "presence for Hoffman's start was not necessarily unusual either -- he was pitching against the team's affiliate in Daytona Beach".
However given that it's July, anything involving scouts is likely to be heightened and connected to the approaching trade deadline. The Padres on the other hand "had not one but two high-ranking officials watch Hoffman, and they scouted Norris as well". A.J. Preller is in possession of a lot of trade pieces, and his team could be a great match with the Blue Jays.
Toronto ranks 14th in reliever fWAR, and 25th in starting pitching fWAR, and they could look to solve both of those issues with one trade. Jon Morosi reported earlier that Alex Anthopoulos "has a history of trades involving large numbers of players, and could address both his primary needs by acquiring (Craig) Kimbrel and one of the (Padres' starters)".
One rival executive said he expects the Padres "to sell as hard as they bought" during the 2014 offseason, which could mean many things. The most obvious is that players like Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner, Ian Kennedy, Justin Upton, Will Venable, and Shawn Kelley, could be moved before the deadline. It could also mean that James Shields, who does not have a no-trade clause, might even be available.
While that might seem rash considering Shields isn't even one-year into his four year, possibly five year contract, Preller didn't earn the "genius...rock star...mad man" label for being timid. The Reds and Phillies have gotten most of the attention for holding up this trade deadline, but the Padres seem to be at least equally responsible.
They have nine legitimate candidates who could be dealt, but Preller has yet to pull the trigger on anything. We'll have to wait for the first domino to fall, but once it does, this has the potential to be one of the most active trade deadlines in recent memory.
*This story incorrectly stated that Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner were impending free agents and has been corrected.