7/5/2014 7:58 P.M. ET
Jays may turn focus to acquiring position player
By Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com
OAKLAND -- The Blue Jays' quest to upgrade their starting rotation became a little bit tougher after Oakland pulled off a blockbuster trade for Cubs right-handers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel on Friday night.
Toronto had been linked to both pitchers for the past several weeks. In the case of Samardzija, the Blue Jays' interest dates back to the offseason when the two clubs engaged in rather lengthy trade negotiations.
The Blue Jays continued to monitor Samardzija throughout the regular season and had scouts at most -- if not all -- of his starts this year. Instead of Toronto, though, it was the A's who pulled off the big deal when they agreed to part with a package of prospects, including Addison Russell.
"It'll be good to see him," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons sarcastically said of Samardzjia, who will pitch vs Toronto on Sunday. "[Billy] Beane's been known to make some moves."
The market for starters at the upcoming Non-Waiver Trade Deadline was never expected to be particularly strong but it has become a lot weaker now that two pitchers are off the market. The quality of available talent will largely depend on what Tampa Bay decides to do with David Price while Philadelphia could make things interesting by putting Cole Hamels, A.J. Burnett and Cliff Lee on the block.
None of those pitchers would come cheap but that might be OK for a Blue Jays organization that appears to be shifting its focus toward position players. The emergence of young pitchers like Drew Hutchison and Marcus Stroman to go along with Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey means the club isn't quite as desperate for starters as it once was.
There's an obvious need for either a second or third baseman as the club searches for ways to score more runs. Toronto had the top-ranked offense in baseball during May but that production slid to 17th the following month.
Toronto has particularly struggled vs left-handed pitching with an AL-worst .234 this season. Another right-handed bat would be useful and the position doesn't really matter because injured infielder Brett Lawrie can play either second or third when he returns from the 15-day disabled list.
"Our big thing right now is scoring runs," Gibbons said. "When we were going really good, we were swinging it. The hole with Brett being gone, trying to shore up the infield a little bit, get some production out of that, is more glaring than the rotation right now. But what might happen, I have no idea."
Jays hopeful Bautista will be healthy for All-Star Game
OAKLAND -- Manager John Gibbons says the Blue Jays have not yet seriously considered asking Jose Bautista to skip the upcoming All-Star Game in Minnesota because of his injured left hamstring.
Bautista has yet to play the field since he aggravated the injury during a game against the Reds on June 22. He avoided a stint on the disabled list but missed a week and has since been limited to starts at DH.
The hope is that Bautista will be able to play right field in the series finale vs. Oakland on Sunday afternoon. If that happens, he'll have a full week of action prior to the All-Star Break, which would go a long way toward convincing the organization he can play in the Midsummer Classic.
"It has crossed our mind but if he can get out there tomorrow he'll have a good week of playing," Gibbons said Saturday. "He should be OK. Now, if it lingers, or he's hobbling around a little bit, it's a different story."
Bautista appears likely to start in right field for the American League team in the All-Star Game on July 15. The team will be officially announced Sunday but when the final round of ballot updates were revealed earlier this week Bautista continued to lead all players in fan voting.
In addition to the All-Star Game, Bautista is the captain of the AL team for the Home Run Derby. Bautista has been reaching out to players over the past couple of weeks to gauge interest in the event and will have the final say on who makes the team.
Gillespie claimed off waivers from Seattle
OAKLAND -- The Blue Jays claimed outfielder Cole Gillespie off waivers from Seattle on Saturday afternoon.
Gillespie is expected to join Toronto prior to Sunday's series finale vs the A's. To make room on the 40-man roster, Minor League outfielder Kenny Wilson was designated for assignment.
The Blue Jays will have to make an additional move to create a spot on the 25-man roster but that is not expected to take place until Gillespie officially joins the team.
"He won't be here today, I expect him to be here tomorrow," manager John Gibbons said Saturday afternoon. "Right-handed bat, take a shot and see how he looks."
Gillespie hit .254 with a pair of doubles, a home run and five RBIs in 34 games for the Mariners this season. He has appeared in 112 games over the course of four big league seasons and has a career average of .233 with four homers and 25 RBIs.
The arrival of Gillespie will lead to the departure of either Darin Mastroianni or Brad Glenn. The Blue Jays have been searching for ways to improve their production against left-handed pitching after entering Saturday's game with an AL-worst .234 average vs. southpaws.
Gillespie is the latest in a long line of players who will attempt to fill that void. Even though that's the goal, Gillespie has a very unspectacular .221 average and .557 OPS against lefties in his career. Those numbers are better this season with a .280 average and .677 OPS but that comes in just 50 at-bats.