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Trade Target Team Profile: Toronto Blue Jays

Posted by: Nick Nelson Updated: June 27, 2012 - 2:23 AM

The Big Picture
The Jays currently find themselves in a familiar situation, enjoying a good season but struggling to gain traction in a treacherous division. Toronto's 38-36 record would have them a game back in the AL Central, but the team sits last in the East, trailing the red-hot Yankees by 7.5 games.

That's right, the Blue Jays – with a record two games over .500 – are only one game closer to first than the Twins, who hold the American League's worst record. Yep, life in the AL East is tough.

Of course, this has always been Toronto's plight, and it's not likely to change any time soon. At some point, they need to make an aggressive push to overcome their daunting divisional rivals, and with the strong roster they have assembled, now seems like as good a time as any.

Why They Will Trade With the Twins
Let's be honest: The Blue Jays' biggest need is pitching. If they want to add to their offensive strength, however, there's one name that sticks out as a natural fit, and that's Justin Morneau.

He's Canadian, his prodigious power would play well in Toronto's hitter-friendly stadium and Toronto is hurting at first base. Adam Lind, a former top prospect whose lack of progress in the majors is alarming given that he's now 28, was outrighted to the minors at the end of May with a .185/.271/.311 hitting line and went unclaimed on waivers. He crushed in Triple-A and was recalled this week, but the organization can't be feeling a ton of confidence in him.

They are, of course, well aware of the lingering issues Morneau has experienced from a concussion he suffered in their ballpark, not to mention his pesky wrist problems, and they have to be put off by his struggles against lefties. But a recent report stated that the club is "very interested" in Minnesota's first baseman.

Why They Won't Trade With the Twins
Let's be honest: The Blue Jays' biggest need is pitching. Toronto ranks third in the AL in runs scored, second in homers and fourth in OPS. Conversely, they rank 10th in ERA, 11th in WHIP and dead last in K/BB ratio. To make a dent in their offense-heavy division, they need to add some impact arms.

Savvy GM Alex Anthopoulos isn't likely be enticed by names such as Carl Pavano or Nick Blackburn, so Terry Ryan's best hope for a match might be Francisco Liriano continuing his dominant run into July or Matt Capps returning with a vengeance. The Jays' rotation has been depleted by injuries and they would love a front line caliber starter to complement Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow; meanwhile their closer situation is iffy given that they had to replace ineffective veteran Francisco Cordero with Casey Janssen about a month into the season and Sergio Santos has been hurt.

The problem isn't that the Twins don't have arms that could entice Toronto, it's that the Blue Jays aren't likely to part with quality pitching in a trade and that's surely what the Twins will be seeking. Intriguing options like Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison are mired on the DL for the foreseeable future.

Conclusion
The Blue Jays have needs that the Twins can address, especially if Liriano and Capps can improve their stock in the coming weeks while the Twins' slim chances of contending fade further. Can Anthopoulos offer up a package that will address Minnesota's long-term needs, though? It's worth noting that there's a history of deadline dealing between the two clubs, though it was nearly a decade ago that Bobby Kielty and Shannon Stewart were swapped.

Head over to Twins Daily where I list five intriguing Jays prospects that the Twins could potentially target in a trade.

~~~

While you're over there, you will also find:

* Info on Fracas at the Field, an event we're holding in August. Here's the short version: tickets to a Saturday night game with a bunch of cool Twins fans, pre-game Q&A with front office exec in Owner's Boardroom, only $45. This is going to be a good time.

* A look at Tuesday's minor-league action from Cody Christie.

* A 200-plus comment game thread on last night's disappointing loss.

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