TORONTO -- The non-waiver Trade Deadline looms on Monday and there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding what the Blue Jays will end up doing.
Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins finds himself in the rather difficult position of trying to retool for 2018 without going through a full-blown rebuild. The desire to remain competitive in the short term likely rules out a lot of the blockbuster-type trades that have been speculated for weeks, but it doesn't mean the Deadline will be entirely uneventful.
Here's a closer look at some of the options the Blue Jays have at their disposal over the next few days:
The pending free agents
Francisco Liriano and Marco Estrada are being shopped, and if the right offer comes around, the Blue Jays surely will make the deal. Multiple reports linked the Royals to both starters earlier this week while MLB Network's Ken Rosenthal suggested on Thursday night that the Cubs are looking at Liriano as a possible reliever. The big question is whether the Blue Jays will be able to get anything of value in return. Estrada has an 8.87 ERA since the start of June, while Liriano hasn't gone more than five innings since July 6.
If the Blue Jays can't get a decent enough prospect then it could make sense to stand pat. Toronto does not have a young starter waiting in the wings and this ballclub does not need to cut salary. If the scouts can find someone they really like, a deal will be made, but if not, all of this trade talk could very well carry into August. Reliever Joe Smith will be shopped as well and Jose Bautista is worth mentioning, but the current market for position players is not strong, and after Bautista had such a hard time securing a deal during the offseason it seems unlikely that he would be on the move now.
MLB.com prediction: Smith and Liriano get traded, Estrada and Bautista stick around.
Atkins has made it clear that he's looking to acquire players with multiple years of control. Outside of the recent Dee Gordon rumors, there has been very little speculation about who those players might be. The harsh reality is that it will be easier said than done for Toronto to pull off this kind of move. The Blue Jays are looking to increase their depth in the Minors, not take away from it, and unless there is a team out there looking to dump salary, a big trade here seems unlikely. Even if a potential trade surfaces involving cash, it probably makes sense for the Blue Jays to save that money for the offseason when more players will be available. Even so, A's infielder Jed Lowrie, who has a club option for 2018 worth $6 million, makes a lot of sense as an insurance policy for Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis.
MLB.com prediction: A trade involving a significant player with multiple years of control will not surface and instead the Blue Jays will look to retool during the offseason.
Don't expect the unexpected
A few weeks ago, all everyone wanted to talk about were potential trades for players such as Josh Donaldson, J.A. Happ, Roberto Osuna and Marcus Stroman. The reality is that none of those players are going to be moved, at least not now. There may come a time when the club looks to deal Stroman or Osuna, but it certainly won't be now, and it probably won't be this offseason either.
MLB.com prediction: There will be no surprises here. Donaldson, Happ, Stroman and Osuna all stay.