Wish lists are tough. This holds true for small children on their birthdays, for politicians with a surplus, but especially for sports teams as polar as the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays.
The Blue Jays of April and May probably would have wished for a leadoff hitter, an infielder to play the left side in order to replace Brett Lawrie or Jose Reyes and another arm for their starting rotation.
But the Blue Jays of June—fresh off a franchise-best 11-game win streak—are probably wishing for something very different. A second baseman and a strong arm for the starting rotation may go a long way to pushing them into the playoffs.
The second base position has been a revolving door this season with Emilio Bonifacio, Maicer Izturis and Mark DeRosa all taking turns. The Blue Jays should look to fill the position permanently and allow their utility infielders to be used as defensive substitutes or injury replacements.
The market for available second basemen is not incredibly deep, but the Blue Jays would be wise to inquire about the Philadelphia Phillies’ Chase Utley.
Utley has not been made widely available, but if the Phillies—who currently sit eight games back of the NL East lead—continue to slip in the standings, then it may make sense for them to throw his name out there. If the price is right, they may be willing to move him.
Utley has hit .268 this season and will be a free agent at the end of the year. He may be the perfect fit for a veteran team, and, at 34 years old, is certainly in the twilight of his career.
One knock against Utley is that general manager Alex Anthopoulos likes to bring in players that have favorable personalities and are good guys to have in the clubhouse (Munenori Kawasaki, Reyes, DeRosa). If this SI.com player poll has any morsel of truth to it, Anthopoulos may take a pass on Utley despite his talent.
A more foreseeable option for the Blue Jays is that they trade for another starting pitcher to help out their injury-depleted rotation. Although fill-ins Chien-Ming Wang and Esmil Rogers have been suitable replacements, the team may be wise to grab another arm.
The market for starting pitchers is a little deeper, and the Blue Jays may be able to pick and choose whom they want to pick up based on salary, age and a number of other factors.
Starting pitchers that have been mentioned in trade rumors as we head towards the trade deadline include Ricky Nolasco, Yovani Gallardo and Scott Feldman, .
The Miami Marlins’ Ricky Nolasco will almost certainly be traded by the deadline, but where he will end up remains to be seen. If the Blue Jays want to throw their name in the ring, they will be pursuing a 30-year-old who’s contract expires at the end of the year.
Nolasco would strictly be a rent-a-player type situation, as he would be a free agent at the end of the year. If the Blue Jays want someone that will be under contract for a number of years, then perhaps Yovani Gallardo is their man.
Gallardo has enjoyed three stellar years since 2010—going 47-26 with a 3.67 ERA before this year—but has slowed down a bit in 2013. He is currently 6-6 with a 4.09 ERA.
Gallardo may be moved at the deadline, but the Milwaukee Brewers may not want to part with their 27-year-old who still has a huge upside. Even if the Brewers decide to move Gallardo, whether or not the Blue Jays will want to give up the necessary players and take on his $11.25 million guaranteed contract is still unknown.
Perhaps the right fit for this team is Chicago Cubs starter Scott Feldman. Feldman has one year remaining and is owed a reasonable $6 million. He has not been putting up flashy numbers this year, but as an extra arm in the rotation, his 3.39 ERA would be fine.
Feldman also has experience pitching out of the bullpen, and his versatility as a pitcher may entice the Blue Jays into looking into his services.
The Blue Jays should be looking for two things as the trade deadline approaches: an everyday second baseman and another pitcher for their rotation. However, if the Blue Jays can keep playing the way they have been during June, management may not trade for anyone and instead sit back and watch some very entertaining baseball.
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