MLB Rumour Roundup: Why Blue Jays are in the spotlight Tuesday

Sportsnet's Shi Davidi joined the Jeff Blair Show to discuss GM Ross Atkins recent comments, and how the Toronto Blue Jays believe they can stay relevant and still compete without going through a full rebuild.

Rogers Centre will be a main focus for the baseball world Tuesday night, even though the Toronto Blue Jays and Oakland Athletics are both last-place teams. The contest won’t dramatically impact the wild-card standings, but top trade candidate Sonny Gray will take the mound for the visitors.

You can bet multiple organizations will have scouts in attendance to watch the 27-year-old hurler who’s under team control through the 2019 season.

Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that the A’s are “prioritizing” young centre-fielders in return for Gray and have an interest in New York Yankees prospect Estevan Florial. The 19-year-old native of Haiti is currently playing for the club’s single-A Charleston affiliate and is the Yankees’ No. 5 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.

Morosi also notes that the Washington Nationals could make a play for Gray, depending on the health of starter Stephen Strasburg, who exited his latest start with right forearm stiffness.

As for teams who are out of the running for Gray, we can likely count the Milwaukee Brewers among them.

Focusing on the ‘pen

With a dearth of front-line starting pitchers available this month, some teams, like the Yankees and Nationals, have worked to strengthen their relief corps, a strategy that’s worked well in recent post-seasons. (For proof, look no further than last year’s playoffs, when the Cleveland Indians made it to Game 7 of the World Series with one effective starter, Corey Kluber, and a super bullpen.)

Miami Marlins closer A.J. Ramos could be among the next impact relievers moved, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

Ramos, who makes $6.5 million this season and is arbitration-eligible next year, would be a tremendous addition to any contending team’s pen. He’s got 19 saves this season to go along with a 3.76 ERA, 1.278 WHIP and 10.8 K/9 rate across 38.1 innings.

Royals not done dealing?

The Kansas City Royals addressed their bullpen and rotation needs on Monday in the six-player deal that brought them starter Trevor Cahill, closer Brandon Maurer and reliever Ryan Buchter. But according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, general manager Dayton Moore might not be done.

This could be of interest to the Blue Jays, who are reportedly shopping free agent starting pitchers Marco Estrada and Francisco Liriano. Just a week ago the Royals were linked to Estrada, a pitcher who Kansas City knows well.

The right-hander enjoyed two strong outings in the 2015 American League Championship Series against the Royals, including a one-run performance over 7.1 innings in Game 5 that kept Toronto alive.