Those are the questions that general manager Alex Anthopolous and manager John Farrell must ask themselves now that the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline is less than a week away.
At 48-48, the Blue Jays are deadlocked with Boston at the bottom of the American League East standings but just four games behind in the wild card race. Their rotation is ravaged by injuries to key arms like Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and rookie Drew Hutchison.
Morrow is nearing a rehab assignment, but right now the rotation features Ricky Romero, Henderson Alvarez, Brett Cecil, Aaron Laffey and Carlos Villaneuva. Laffey and Villaneuva are historically better suited for the bullpen, and Cecil has been inconsistent in previous major league stints.
Romero, who won 15 games and logged a 2.92 ERA last season, is having a down year with a 5.22 ERA over 20 starts. He opened the year with an 8-1 record but has now dropped five starts in a row. Alvarez, a 22-year-old rookie right-hander, has a 4.61 ERA in 19 starts.
It doesn’t help matters that slugger Jose Bautista landed on the 15-day disabled list last week with inflammation in his left wrist.
Last week, the Blue Jays and Astros signed off on a 10-player trade that sent pitchers J.A. Happ and Brandon Lyon and minor league reliever David Carpenter to Toronto for Francisco Cordero, Ben Francisco and five prospects along with a player to be named later (who will likely be someone from the 2011 draft and decided upon when he reaches his one-year service time as a pro).
Happ and Lyon are currently part of the Blue Jays bullpen, which has lost Jason Fraser and Sergio Santos to the DL.
With so many teams ahead of them in the wild card race, and an ample supply of top prospects, it would make sense if Toronto did not make a blockbuster deal at the deadline since they are not one or even two players away from contending for a World Series title.
The Blue Jays have a bright future with talented young major leaguers like Brett Lawrie and Colby Rasmus; veteran sluggers such as Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion; and young arms like Romero, Alvarez, Drabek, Hutchison and Morrow.
Top prospects include Anthony Gose (who was called up to replace Bautista in right field, fellow high ceiling outfielder Jake Marisnick, catcher Travis d’Arnaud, shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria and starting pitchers Aaron Sanchez, Daniel Norris and Justin Nicolino. D’Arnaud, Gose and Marisnick were part of Baseball America’s 2012 Mid-Season Top Prospects list.
If the Blue Jays wants to package a couple prospects for a difference maker like Miami right-hander Josh Johnson or Milwaukee’s Zack Greinke, but only expect them to do so if the return they receive is a player who is a young veteran and can be a core member of the team for several seasons.