2021 MLB Trade Deadline Preview: Toronto Blue Jays

2021 MLB Trade Deadline Preview: Toronto Blue Jays

by July 12, 2021 2 comments

2021 has been an up-and-down year for the Blue Jays, who have seemingly hit a wall of mediocrity as of late, winning four of their last 10 games. With that said, the team has had plenty to be happy about given the monstrous emergence of Vladimir Guerrerro Jr. and the rise of newcomer Marcus Semien, both of whom have been named as starters in the All-Star Game. Still, although the Jays have built a formidable infield, the team has several holes on its roster.

Let’s break down what the Blue Jays must do at the upcoming trade deadline in order to succeed down the stretch this season.

Make sure to check out all of our other Trade Deadline Previews.

Current Position

Record: 45-42
Rank: Third in AL East (8.0 GB)
Status: Buyers

The Toronto Blue Jays are in an interesting position ahead of the MLB trade deadline. The team sits above .500 and has already indicated that they will be buyers, but the final leg of the year will not be easy for them. After all, they are in third place in the American League’s most challenging division: the East. Further, they are eight games out of first in the division and 6.5 games out of second. It will take a lot for the Jays to catch fire and go on a formidable run in the final two months of the season, but anything is possible.

Trade Candidates

Richard Rodriguez, Relief Pitcher, Pittsburgh Pirates

The Blue Jays have been linked to Rodriguez for quite some time now, and the pairing makes plenty of sense. Toronto’s bullpen has undoubtedly been its biggest weakness, and Rodriguez could help to reverse some of these woes. Through 30 outings this year, he is 4-1 with a 2.23 FIP, 0.76 WHIP, 7.4 K/9, 0.8 BB/9, and 0.4 HR/9. He also locked down a career-high 12 saves this year and could give Toronto a reliable closer in the back-end of its bullpen. Further, while the Jays will surely have competition in the Rodriguez sweepstakes, an old friend could help them get a leg up. Current Pirates general manager Ben Cherington most recently worked with the Blue Jays and could be looking to do business with his old club.

Ian Kennedy, Relief Pitcher, Texas Rangers

Kennedy is another closer who has been truly impressive so far this season. The 36-year-old is a starter-turned-reliever who once won 21 games in a single season. He is also a former Cy Young and MVP candidate, though he has yet to make an All-Star Game appearance. So far this year, the Texas closer has a 2.67 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 9.5 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, and 1.5 HR/9. Most importantly, he has logged 15 saves through 30 outings. Texas is in a position to sell, with names like Joey Gallo and Kyle Gibson headlining their potential deadline departures. Don’t overlook Kennedy, though, especially as the Jays peruse the market for a reliable closer.

Bryan Reynolds, Outfielder, Pittsburgh Pirates

It’s quite possible the Blue Jays only focus on relievers this month, but they have a need for outfield help, too. While they did acquire Corey Dickerson from the Miami Marlins, that may have been a move focused on salary relief for Miami. After all, Dickerson is battling a foot injury and might not even play again this season. Reynolds, on the other hand, is healthy as can be. The former Rookie of the Year is on a roll this season, slashing .302/.387/.519 with 16 homers, 51 RBI, 42 walks, and 74 strikeouts. He also earned his first All-Star Game selection. Reynolds is also controllable through 2025, which is a good thing for the Blue Jays, especially because they project as more down-the-road contenders rather than 2021 World Series candidates. However, this factor does mean that his price tag will be significantly higher. Getting a player like Reynolds for four-and-a-half more years will be worthwhile, but it’s also going to require the Blue Jays brass to open up their wallets. 

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Andersen is a teenage sportswriter and reporter whose articles have appeared across the Prime Time Sports Talk, Sports Illustrated Kids, FantasyPros, and SB Nation platforms. He has also received credit from RotoWorld, CBS Sports, ESPN, Bleacher Report, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, The Athletic, SB Nation, NBC Sports, NY Post, and dozens of other sports sites for his reporting work.

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