With the All-Star game over, we now turn our attention to the MLB trade deadline. The rumor mill has already started for many teams, and the Jays are no exception. The Jays have played really well over the last month or so and are firmly in a position to compete. As such, the attention has been focused on how can they make the club better. While pitching is constantly brought up, much attention has also been given to finding a new outfielder.
The Jays could really use a boost in their play at first base. But, it would seem the plan will be for Bautista to DH more once he gets back while Edwin gets more reps at first. This seems like a safe plan, especially if you can get Bautista to eventually take some time at first as well.
But, this leaves a whole in right field. The Jays have been using Ezequiel Carrera in Bautista's absence,and while he started off the season hot, he's cooled recently. Since the beginning of June, Carrera is hitting just .229. He's been good as a replacement player, but for a team looking to make the playoffs, they'll need more production.
This is why the Jays' front office has been looking into outfielders. While I would love to see an upgrade in right, I'm of the opinion that the Jays only have the pieces to make one trade. Given a choice between another pitcher, or an outfielder, I'm leaning towards a pitcher.
To understand this position it's first important to see who's available. First, we need to be realistic and assume that, between salary and the Jays' resources, that guys like Braun, CarGo, and Upton are not available. In fact, the only two names that the Jays have been realistically linked to, are Jay Bruce and Josh Reddick.
Jay Bruce: we've all heard the name before. The Jays almost acquired Bruce in Spring Training for Michael Saunders (thank goodness that fell through). But, now at the deadline we're hearing his name linked to the Jays again. It's easy to understand why, Bruce was an All-Star this year and brings some pop. He's currently slashing .267/.315/.538. All are high marks since at least 2010. But, the issue with Bruce is that there's real questions about whether he can continue this pace in the second half. Additionally, even though Bruce's offensive numbers have been good, his WAR for the season is 0.0. Why you ask? Because Bruce's defense has been horrendous. In fact, among 21 qualifying right fielders, Bruce ranks as the worst in baseball. While his power could be valuable, his poor defensive play makes me leery to part with too much for this guy.
Josh Reddick: this is the other name I've heard brought up. Reddick burst onto the scene in 2012 when he hit 32 home runs in Oakland. Reddick also proved to be a capable defender with a cannon for an arm. But, since that time, Reddick has dealt with multiple injuries with have hampered his ability to be on the field. Including this season, where Reddick has only recently made it back from a fractured thumb. If healthy, Reddick can be a strong left handed bat, who plays good defense. The issue is whether we can expect Reddick to stay healthy.
Who do we got:
So obviously, we want to see better play in right, if we were to trade for a pitcher instead, who's going to play right field?
Carrera: Carrera is the first name simply because he's been playing there. While he's struggled over the last month or so, he's still slashing .281/.370/.407 for the year. His defense has been good, and he could be the best leadoff option they have. The Jays could opt to simply let Carrera ride out his slump and see if he can re-find his form at the plate.
Junior Lake: Lake was a top prospect for the Cubs a few years back. Eventually, Lake found himself in Baltimore, and now Toronto. Lake is still young (26 years old), and still possess a lot of raw tools. Over the last two seasons, in both the minors and majors, Lake has improved his plate discipline. While he might not be a star player, if given the chance to play everyday, Lake could end up as a valuable player in right.
Darrell Ceciliani: Ceciliani was signed to provide organizational depth in the outfield. While his overall numbers in Buffalo haven't been spectacular, since the beginning of June, Ceciliani is batting .296. While he won't likely win a gold glove, he plays strong defense. If Ceciliani continues to hit the way he has been, there's no doubt he can be an asset for the Big League club.
Dalton Pompey: okay, he's had a rough year. Pompey was showing improvement throughout the beginning of the season, in Buffalo, before a concussion sidelined him for nearly three weeks. Pompey has only been back three games, so he would likely need another couple weeks to find his rhythm. But, Pompey's talent can't be denied. The Jays fully expect Pompey to be a part of their MLB outfield next season, so why not now? Pompey is a great baserunner and strong defensive player. It might be time for the Dalton Pompey era to begin.
The Jays need in right field is rather apparent. While finding an upgrade on the market has some merit, it's hard to imagine the Jays can make a trade for both a pitcher and outfielder. If that's the case then I think the Jays should explore the outfield options within their own system before selling out for Bruce or Reddick.