Series preview: Blue Jays host potential trade partner as deadline nears

San Diego Padres right-hander Andrew Cashner. (Lenny Ignelzi/AP)

With exactly one week remaining before the non-waiver trade deadline, one of the season’s most prominent sellers arrives in Toronto for three games against the Blue Jays.

The Padres, now 43-56, have already traded Drew Pomeranz and they have many more players drawing interest around the league. Here’s what to watch for as the Blue Jays host the Padres for the first time ever…

Monday, July 25 – 7:07 p.m. ET
Aaron Sanchez vs. Colin Rea

Tuesday, July 26 – 7:07 p.m. ET
Marcus Stroman vs. Andrew Cashner

Wednesday, July 27 – 12:37 p.m. ET
Marco Estrada vs. Luis Perdomo

Separating fact from fiction
Considering the Blue Jays’ needs and the Padres’ trade chips, these teams are logical trade partners as the Aug. 1 deadline approaches. They’ve been linked in rumours already, and that trend will likely continue in the week ahead.

So how do we parse what’s true at a time when there’s a lot of misinformation out there? For starters, Padres and Blue Jays executives see the same thing you do: The teams match up on paper. That’s led to plenty of discussions between the teams already. Melvin Upton Jr.? His name has come up. Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross? They’re on the Blue Jays’ radar, too.

Here’s some more context worth considering: Like most contenders, the Blue Jays call on just about everyone who might be available. If there’s a trade candidate out there, the Blue Jays have more than likely checked on that player, either by scouting him, inquiring about him in preliminary trade talks, or both. As a result, the Blue Jays will be linked to dozens of players and most will not be traded to Toronto. Sometimes, other teams may even use the Blue Jays’ interest to drive up prices for other contenders.

So while the Padres are absolutely a match in potential trade talks, the Blue Jays are keeping their options open as they contemplate mid-season additions.

Cashner’s final start?
Expect a large contingent of scouts to be on hand when Andrew Cashner takes the mound on Tuesday. The right-hander could be making his final start as a member of the Padres, so teams like the Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles and Miami Marlins figure to be represented in the scouts’ section given the state of their rotations.

Cashner has a pedestrian 4.79 ERA in 15 starts, but the pending free agent has pitched better of late, with 17 strikeouts and zero walks in his last two outings.

Bautista returns
Jose Bautista returns to the Blue Jays Monday after missing more than a month with turf toe. The 35-year-old represents a huge offensive upgrade for the Blue Jays, especially considering how Ezequiel Carrera’s offensive production has fallen off of late. That said, the Blue Jays don’t need Bautista to carry the offence since Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson are putting together exceptionally productive seasons.

Bautista’s track record suggests the Blue Jays can expect plenty of offence in the next two months. It’s also the right-fielder’s chance to show teams why he’s worthy of a substantial long-term contract when he hits free agency this winter.

First visit to Toronto
The Padres have hosted the Blue Jays three times, but they’ve never actually visited Toronto before. After Monday’s game, the Blue Jays will finally have hosted and visited every franchise in the league. It only took 40 years…

Uncertainty surrounds Martin
The Blue Jays are hopeful that Russell Martin will avoid the disabled list, but he may need more rest against the Padres. Backup catcher Josh Thole has started the last three games for the Blue Jays while Martin recovers from the knee injury he sustained after a visit to the sauna Thursday. If Martin’s able to return against San Diego, the Blue Jays’ lineup would look that much deeper.

“It’s probably going to be sore, but I’ve played through soreness before,” Martin said Friday. “It’s just going to be one of those years where I have to grind it out.”

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