The Blue Jays made tweaks to their roster before the MLB trade deadline, but while the new faces will make the team better, Toronto's American League rivals look even stronger before a highly anticipated post-season push north of the border.
JULIA KREUZ: This trade deadline was both eventful and underwhelming for the Blue Jays. What happened and where does the team go from here? We'll start this quick trade recap with the elephant in the room in Whit Merrifield, who joins the Blue Jays in a trade with the Royals.
He's a utility guy, plays multiple positions, a contact hitter more so than a power guy these days. But the Blue Jays do see him as an everyday contributor-- that is, if he can contribute every day, because his vaccination status right now is still up in the air. Merrifield didn't make the trip to Toronto when the Royals were in town because he was unvaccinated.
And the Blue Jays so far have not commented on that vaxx status. Now, it's probably safe to assume that there is some sort of a guarantee that this will happen and that Merrifield will be able to contribute in the rest of the regular season and beyond. It's just-- it seemed like an awkward fit, but certainly once he's here and playing every day, the Blue Jays will be better for it.
But the main area that the Blue Jays needed to address in this trade deadline was pitching. And they started doing so in a trade with the Marlins. They did part with one of the top prospects in the organization in Jordan Groshans to bring back a couple of relievers in Anthony Bass and Zach Pop. Bass is a 34-year-old. He's a former Blue Jay.
And he's been enjoying a career year. His ERA right now is under 2.00, and he will provide the Blue Jays with a little bit more of that strikeout potential that the bullpen seems to be missing right now. Pop is Canadian. He is from Brampton-- not a ton of strikeout potential there, but he produces ground balls at an incredible clip. And he comes with several years of team control as a young bullpen guy. So maybe more of a mid-term move than a short-term one for the Blue Jays in acquiring Pop from the Marlins.
Ross Atkins still had time to close another deal, this time with the Dodgers, and one that is very similar to the one that they made with Los Angeles for Ross Stripling a couple of years ago. The Blue Jays brought in Mitch White, who figures to be a bulk bullpen arm for now, but also has the ability to start at times. And this bulk reliever role is something that the Blue Jays have struggled with this year, especially after Stripling moved into the rotation full time.
White is a very young player. He has several years of team control. And the Blue Jays believe that they can turn him into a piece that is important, not only in the bullpen, but with the pitching staff as a whole for years to come. That trade also brought in a 20-year old, Alex De Jesus, who is a minor leaguer. He has tremendous power. But also, he strikes out a whole lot. So that's a high upside guy that if he makes it, he will be great as long as he can get the strikeouts under control.
Yes, the Blue Jays are a better team now than they were ahead of the deadline. But it doesn't seem like the Blue Jays were able to close that gap between them and a few other contenders in the American League and in the National League if they are to make the World Series this year.