Even in inflated market, Blue Jays can’t afford to pass up trade opportunities

TORONTO – One year and one day from his out-of-their-comfort-zone acquisition by the Toronto Blue Jays, Jose Berrios was back on the mound Sunday afternoon, driving his team to a 12th victory in 15 outings and another series win.

Sure, trading top prospects Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson hurt at the time, but to land one of the available crown jewels during last summer’s frenzy? Totally worth it, even with the ace right-hander’s non-linear season thus far.

Given the chance, nobody in the organization is undoing that deal now and the psychological lift the Berrios blockbuster provided is worth reflecting on as the Blue Jays headed into the home stretch ahead of this year’s Aug. 2 cut-off.

Berrios allowed one run in seven dominant innings, Matt Chapman hit a two-run homer while Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Bo Bichette added RBI doubles in a 4-1 win over the Detroit Tigers as the Blue Jays improved to 57-45, situated in a much better place than they were a year ago when they took the plunge.

For that reason, they can’t suddenly go all conservative in a market that tilted further in the sellers’ favour when Seattle sent three top-10 prospects, including their Nos. 1 and 2, and another player to Cincinnati for ace Luis Castillo.

Compared to the cost for Berrios a year, the inflation was jarring, the deadline equivalent in the year-over-year change in your gas bill. The Blue Jays are fortunate enough to have a farm system that can afford the spike and it’s on them augment in as responsible a manner as they can, no matter how much they dislike the prices.

One rival evaluator, breaking down their roster and chances, noted how this is a down year for the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays, that the Mariners are desperate, that wild-card hopefuls Cleveland and Minnesota aren’t on the Blue Jays’ level.

“I hope they go for it,” he said.

To that end the Blue Jays’ focuses, according to another industry source, appeared to be on adding a starter and two relief pieces, with a lean toward the rental side.

Jon Morosi of MLB Network said the trade market for Oakland Athletics starter Frankie Montas was locked in on the Blue Jays, New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals and the righty has another year left of contractual control, making him more expensive.

The Blue Jays and A’s know each other well from making the Chapman deal back in the spring and one tenet of trading at this time of year is to only use your top prospects if an all-star calibre player is coming back in return.

Montas, who recently returned from shoulder issues, is definitely in the upper tier of starters but his health is a question. He’d undoubtedly provide a major boost for their rotation, but there’s a case to be made that plowing mid-tier prospect capital into the bullpen might be more impactful.

The Blue Jays have been reluctant to make significant bullpen investments in recent seasons because of the volatility in reliever performance, but when push comes to shove in the playoffs, the ball is often in their hands when games are decided.

For that reason, David Robertson of the Chicago Cubs seems like a happy medium, offering both experience, in-season performance and rental status to keep the price more tolerable.

The Tigers have another rental on their radar in Michael Fulmer, but also some longer-term pieces that fit for the Blue Jays in Gregory Soto, Joe Jimenez and Alex Lange. Each auditioned here this weekend and the sense on the other side of the dugout is that some of their players were due to remain.

That didn’t play out and the intrigue only builds from here as the Blue Jays try to augment a team that’s earned more than window dressing.

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