In what has largely been an up-and-down season, the Toronto Blue Jays will soon have to decide whether they feel they have a legitimate shot at the playoffs.
With the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline looming, general manager Alex Anthopoulos needs to figure out whether his squad will be on the hunt for impact players or looking to unload some contracts in favour of prospects or draft picks.
Not an easy task when the Jays find themselves coming off a three-game sweep at the hands of the division-leading New York Yankees — and now sit an almost insurmountable 12.5 games back in the American League East — yet are just three games out of the final AL wild-card slot as of Thursday (currently occupied by the Detroit Tigers).
An important three-game series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park beginning Friday should help Anthopoulos gauge where his team stands heading forward.
The case for buyers: Despite the amount of injuries the Blue Jays have suffered over the course of the season, including an infirmary overloaded with pitchers and the recent loss of Jose Bautista and his 27 home runs, the team has managed to stay afloat in the playoff race. Three games out in the wild-card race despite being two games below .500 (45-47) is an encouraging sign for the Blue Birds. Edwin Encarnacion has shown MVP form over the course of the season and has exceeded expectations (25 homers, 62 RBIs, .296 average). Casey Janssen has been an integral part of the bullpen, converting 13 of 14 save opportunities while the ageless wonder Darren Oliver owns a microscopic 1.30 earned-run average and an even more impressive 0.92 WHIP in 38 games. They've also got a deep farm system that could be attractive to rebuilding teams.
The case for sellers: Injuries and inconsistencies. Pitchers Jesse Litsch, Dustin McGowan, Sergio Santos, Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchison and Luis Perez are all either currently or were previously on the DL this season with various ailments. With so many injuries it might be wise to look towards the future. To boot, No. 1 starter Ricky Romero has been anything but of late, and if Toronto hopes to get on track they'll need him to snap his personal five-game losing streak (he's given up 25 earned runs over that span). Three games back in the wild-card chase seems reasonable, but not when the Jays have to surpass a half-dozen teams to get there. In other words, their playoff prospects look grim. Francisco Cordero, who was supposed to provide consistency out of the bullpen, has been shaky at best and has blown three out of five save chances — with a 5.77 ERA.
With that in mind, we want you to decide whether the Blue Jays should be buyers or sellers approaching the deadline. Post your comments below and start the debate!