The Blue Jays are facing an interesting conundrum. With a 45-49 record at the all-star break and only a minimal chance of making the post-season, should they trade for immediate help in the rotation (their biggest need)? Should they be sellers? Should they promote from within?
The hottest rumour over the weekend, from Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago, had the Blue Jays and Texas being the front runners in a trade with the Cubs for right hander Matt Garza, who's slated to become a free agent after this season.
Garza has pitched extremely well since returning from an elbow operation, racking up a 6-1 record and taking the Cubs deep into ball games every start.
He's making $10.25 million this season, and the Cubs are balking at giving him the kind of raise he is looking for. Garza's career record is only 63-62 and just 21-18 in two-a-half injury marred seasons with the Cubbies since coming over in a 2011 deal with Tampa Bay.
Consider what the Cubbies had to give up to get him from Tampa Bay - a five-for-two deal, with the Cubs giving up right hander Chris Archer, catcher Roinbson Chirinos, outfielder Brandon Guyer, shortstop Hak-Ju Lee and utility outfielder Sam Fuld.
Archer alone makes that deal worth it for the Rays. He pitched his first career shutout on Sunday, striking out eight and blanking Houston 5-0 to bump his record to 4-3 and reduce the 24 year old's ERA to 2.96. Sam Fuld has turned into a valuable role players with the Rays as well.
The Cubs know they aren't going to get five players back for Garza, especially with free agency looming, but they're not going to give him away either. Texas has a deeper farm system than the Blue Jays at the moment and Boston and Cleveland could be in the bidding as well, so Garza to the Jays looks like a bit of a long shot.
This is where Ricky Romero enters the picture again. If the Blue Jays consider themselves out of the post-season picture, might they give Ricky another shot at reclaiming his spot in the rotation?
Sunday at Buffalo, Romero had his most dominant start yet at Triple A. He went eight innings in a 7-1 victory over the Yankees' Scranton/Wilkes Barre Railriders farm club. He gave up just one run on four hits and struck out four. Romero had command of his fastball and threw 62 strikes. Romero is only 2-3 with the Bisons but has thrown four quality starts in a row and six of his last seven.
Romero still has that very payroll-friendly contract as well. He gets $7.5 million in 2014 and again in 2015, when he will be 30 years old. In 2016, the final year of the deal, he's due to make $13.1 million but the Blue Jays hold a $600,000 buyout option on that year. So, the Jays could give Romero another shot after the all-star break or try to interest other teams in dealing for him.
The Jays' other option is to basically stand pat since Brandon Morrow and J.A Happ could be back within a month and Drew Hutchison and Kyle Drabek appear to be on the horizon as well, along with Luis Perez for the bullpen.
This much I know; the Blue Jays won't concede they're out of the post-season chase until the end of their 10 game home stand against the Rays, Dodgers and Astros coming out of the all-star break. That takes them to July 28, just three days before the non-waiver trade deadline at 4:00 PM Eastern on that Wednesday afternoon.
If you think the Blue Jays have a tough decision with Romero, consider the Giants and Tim Lincecum. The man only enhanced his heroic and legendary status in San Francisco by no-hitting the Padres over the weekend, the first no-no of his career. But the 29-year-old Lincecum is only 5-9 on the season and over the last three years his cumulative record over the past three seasons is only 28-38. He's also making $22 million this season and is a free agent after this year.
Lincecum's career accomplishments are hard to deny. Back to back Cy Young Awards in 2009 and 2010 and World Series titles in two of the last three years, and now a no-hitter. He's got the foundation of a Hall of Fame career with an 84-65 record but the Giants, who actually have a worse record than the Blue Jays at 43-51, have to be wondering if it's time to move Lincecum and start building for the future. Lincecum's name could be one of the most intriguing on the open market as trade deadline day approaches.