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2017 MLB Trade Deadline Preview: Toronto Blue Jays

A look at what the Blue Jays will do in advance of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

As we approach July 31, we will preview what each team is projected to do in advance of the non-waiver trade deadline. For a complete listing of our previews, click here.

Toronto Blue Jays: 38-45, 5th in the AL East

What moves have they made so far?

The Blue Jays’ most high-profile move of 2017 thus far has been acquiring catcher Miguel Montero for a player to be named later after he was designated for assignment by the Cubs. The presence of Montero, who has an .805 OPS this season but has struggled defensively, will allow manager John Gibbons to give starter Russell Martin more days off and will also present him with a left-handed pinch-hitting option. Prior to the Montero trade, the Jays’ most notable transaction has been designating 40-year-old reliever Jason Grilli for assignment, then trading him to the Texas Rangers for minor-league outfielder Eduard Pinto. They also designated reliever Casey Lawrence for assignment in May, then lost him on waivers to the Mariners.

The Jays signed outfielder Michael Saunders to a minor-league deal in late June and assigned him to Triple-A Buffalo. Saunders, who was an All-Star as a member of the Blue Jays last season, signed with the Phillies over the winter but was designated for assignment after he hit .205/.257/.360 in 214 plate appearances. He’s struggled during the early going at Buffalo, but he could be a candidate to be called up if the Blue Jays have a need later this summer.

Are they buyers or sellers?

After staying within striking distance in both the AL East and Wild Card races until last week, the Jays now have a ton of ground to make up if they want to reach the postseason. Logically, one would think it’d make sense for them to consider selling, but there’s no one who it really makes sense for them to trade away unless they end up getting a solid offer for a veteran reliever like Joe Smith or Aaron Loup.

Despite the fact that they’re in last place, GM Ross Atkins recently said on Sportsnet that the team would be open to moves of both the buying and selling variety, specifically mentioning a desire to upgrade at second base and in left field, though he acknowledged that those could simply be in-house upgrades.’s Jon Paul Morosi reported that the Blue Jays could consider a rebuild, which obviously would make quite a few players expendable at the deadline.

Who could they trade?

Jose Bautista has had an okay season, hitting .233/.344/.410 with 14 homers in 355 plate appearances, and he can become a free agent at the end of 2017. The degree to which other teams around the league dislike Bautista has been much-publicized, though, so it’s difficult to see him getting moved.

The remaining pending free agents on Toronto’s roster include pitchers Marco Estrada, Francisco Liriano, and J.P. Howell, all of whom have severely underperformed expectations this season, and utility man Darwin Barney, who provides the Blue Jays more value than he’d ever bring back in a trade. Their only pending free agent who would seem to have any trade value at all is the aforementioned Smith, a sidearming right-hander who is currently on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation.

Loup, who is a free agent after the 2018 season, could also be a candidate to be traded if the Jays really struggle over the next month and decide to become full-blown sellers. His power sinker from the left side could be attractive to clubs looking to bolster their relief corps for the stretch run, but his numbers this year (3.94 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 30 strikeouts, and 15 walks over 29.2 innings) aren’t exactly dominant, so he probably wouldn’t bring back anything more than a fringe prospect.

If the Jays decide to begin the rebuilding process, then it’s possible that they could listen to offers for Donaldson and starter J.A. Happ at the deadline. Morris mentioned the Cardinals as a team that could have interest in acquiring Donaldson.


The Blue Jays will most likely stand pat at the deadline and hope they can turn things around with their existing group over the season’s final two months. With that said, president Mark Shapiro and GM Ross Atkins have a propensity for shaking things up in July just for the fun of it. Last July, as they were in the heat of the AL East race, they acquired Melvin Upton Jr., Joaquin Benoit, Francisco Liriano, Scott Feldman, and Mike Bolsinger in the last week before the deadline while dealing Drew Hutchison, Jesse Chavez, and Drew Storen. Those moves gave the team a makeover more than they made it demonstrably better, and though their chances of making the playoffs are much lower this season, perhaps the front office will look to revamp the bottom half of the roster again.