The Toronto Blue Jays had scouts on hand Monday night to carefully watch the Philadelphia Phillies game versus the San Francisco Giants. But to be fair, according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick’s report - who didn’t have scouts on hand in Philadelphia last night?
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) July 21, 2014
While all eyes were fixated on Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee, the Toronto Blue Jays’ scouts may have actually been interested in a different Phillies southpaw pitcher. That would be Phillies left-handed relief pitcher Antonio Bastardo. The hard throwing lefty has quietly been one of the Phillies’ best relief pitchers in recent years and has drawn interest from a couple of teams. Equipped with a devastating slider, Bastardo could help the Blue Jays’ bullpen immediately, after the team optioned Sergio Santos this morning.
Beyond Bastardo, the Phillies have a number of assets that are drawing interest from around the league. One Philadelphia player in particular that has been tied to the Blue Jays recently, is second basemen Chase Utley. According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Blue Jays have real interest in Utley.
While Utley does turn 36 in December, he can still play at a high level when healthy. But with age and health becoming more and more prominent question marks over the years, I could see the Blue Jays looking elsewhere for an infielder. A side note to make with Chase Utley is that he can invoke his rights as a veteran member of the Phillies to deny a trade as well, further adding to the difficulty of acquiring his services.
With the Phillies in full sell mode according to Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia, it’s inevitable that names like Jonathan Papelbon, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels continue to circulate. Closer Jonathan Papelbon will be a tough sell because of the size of his contract, and according to Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal, “is generating little interest”. Where he would fit in with Toronto would be another mystery. Casey Janssen‘s recent struggles on the weekend do not look to be a substantial issue going forward.
As of yesterday, the Phillies have also told teams that Cole Hamels is not available, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney. Thus crossing him off the Blue Jays’ short list as well.
To date, Phillies telling other teams Cole Hamels is not available. — Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 22, 2014
While according to Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi, Cliff Lee’s list of teams he is willing to be traded to remains a difficult matter. Apparently, Lee has provided a list of 20 teams he will not go to, with the Yankees being one of them still.
Yankees among the 20 teams to which Cliff Lee can block a trade, source confirms. We will discuss on @AmericasPregame today, 6 pm ET.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 21, 2014
If we recall from last year, Lee expressed his disinterest of begin traded to Boston, Baltimore and New York. Where would that leave the Blue Jays then? It is difficult to say at this point, but in all likelihood, I would bet that a package of relief pitcher Antonio Bastardo and second basemen Chase Utley would appear to be more likely than acquiring the services of Cliff Lee or Cole Hamels.
Other Blue Jays Trade Rumors: Aside from a barrage of Phillies rumours, here is a list of other players that have been linked to the Toronto Blue Jays recently. According to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, the Blue Jays have shown interest in Padres outfielder Chris Denorfia.
Jays have interest in Padres outfielder Chris Denorfia, sources say. His numbers are down this year, but career .809 OPS vs. LHP. — Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 20, 2014
While our earlier report of an arm’s race between the Yankees and Blue Jays for Padres third basemen Chase Headley came to fruition this afternoon, the Blue Jays were unfortunately on the wrong side of the deal as Headley was shipped out to the Bronx.
Another name that has surfaced with the Blue Jays is former outfielder Alex Rios. Currently a member of the Texas Rangers, CBS Sports Jon Heyman reports that the Blue Jays have indeed inquired about Rios. This rumour is a surprise to Blue Jays fans, and to be quite honest, I think it is more of a smoke screen than anything.
While the Blue Jays remain active on the trade rumor front, the team embarks on a crucial part of the schedule this week with the next nine-games against the Yankees and Red Sox.
As the trade deadline draws near, we will continue to keep you posted with everything Blue Jays leading up to the deadline.