TORONTO — By the time the Toronto Blue Jays return home from their upcoming road trip, their roster should look considerably different. The J.A. Happ rumours intensified Wednesday, and he likely won’t be the only one dealt before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
“I don’t know what’s actually going to happen, but I’ve got a feeling there will be a couple moves,” manager John Gibbons said. “I think something will happen. Things are starting to move a little bit out there.”
In the meantime, though, the Blue Jays still have games to play and that means making plans for their starting rotation against the Chicago White Sox this weekend. Marcus Stroman starts Friday, with Happ slated to pitch Saturday, barring a trade.
For Sunday’s start, the Blue Jays haven’t ruled out Marco Estrada, who pitched 3.1 innings in a triple-A rehab outing Tuesday before exiting with a blister on his pitching hand. The right-hander will join the Blue Jays in Chicago, at which point they can reassess his middle finger.
If Estrada needs more than four days of rest, however, Ryan Borucki would get the chance to start against his hometown team. The left-hander from Mundelein, Ill., was a fan of Mark Buehrle and the White Sox growing up, one reason the Blue Jays like the idea of starting him in Chicago.
“Yeah we could do that anyways, if we wanted to get Marco an extra day,” Gibbons said. “Maybe that would help that (blister) out. We’re talking about that now … Maybe that worked out just perfectly.”
In five starts at the big-league level, Borucki has a 2.79 ERA despite having faced the Yankees, Red Sox and Astros. Based on those results, Gibbons expects Borucki could also handle the challenge of pitching close to home.
“Sometimes what happens is they get too pumped up,” the manager said. “But any time you can make a dream come true, I like that. Eventually, he’d probably pitch there anyways, but it’d be kind of nice in his first go-around.”
Thomas Pannone, who was acquired at last year’s trade deadline, has a 3.98 ERA in three starts with Buffalo and could be a consideration should the Blue Jays need rotation reinforcements.
A BREAK FOR TEOSCAR
Teoscar Hernandez was on the bench Wednesday, the day after missing a routine fly ball in left field. It was the latest misplay for a player whose defence remains below-average despite good speed and a strong throwing arm.
“I’m not punishing him by any means,” Gibbons said. “But he’s got to get better out there.”
Hernandez often takes questionable routes to balls, undermining his raw skills. While those misadventures are troubling for a team in need of better defence, Gibbons has been encouraged by Hernandez’s attitude.
“He’s very steady,” Gibbons said. “He’s not a real emotional guy one way or the other.”
TRADE MARKET DEVELOPS
Both Nathan Eovaldi and Zach Britton are free agents once the season ends, and yet both brought back considerable returns that further suggest the Blue Jays are well-positioned to convert Happ into a meaningful prospect.
In exchange for Britton, the Rays obtained Jalen Beeks, a 25-year-old left-hander with a 2.89 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 87.1 innings at triple-A. For Britton, the Orioles obtained three pitching prospects: Dillon Tate, Cody Carroll and Josh Rogers. Tate, the headliner, had a 3.38 ERA in 15 starts at double-A before the trade.
If those deals are any indication, teams with quality arms are positioned to do well this week. And when it comes to rentals at least, general managers aren’t hesitating to make intra-divisional deals.