Jeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press
The expanded Major League Baseball playoff field could change the dynamic of the Aug. 31 trade deadline.
In a normal season, the divide between buyers and sellers would be much larger, but with plenty of teams still in contention, we could see more squads searching for upgrades.
The Toronto Blue Jays and Arizona Diamondbacks are among the franchises helped out by the larger group of postseason contestants.
Neither team is favored to win their respective divisions, but if they improve their pitching staffs, they could end up in the wild-card mix and may be positioned for a surprise postseason run.
Teams Actively Searching For Upgrades
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays recently placed top prospect Nate Pearson on the injured list, where closer Ken Giles already resides.
Toronto’s pitching situation is not in dire straits, as it ranks above the league average in runs allowed per game and team ERA.
In order to keep pace with the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays, or challenge for a wild-card berth, Toronto could use some reinforcements.
Hyun-Jin Ryu has been impressive at the top of the rotation with a 3.46 ERA and 27 strikeouts, but he is one of two starters with multiple wins going into Friday. Tanner Roark is the other.
Acquiring a starter could be a more attractive prospect since Anthony Bass and Jordan Romano have brought some stability to the bullpen in Giles’ absence.
Bass recorded three saves and Romano leads the bullpen with 18 strikeouts over 12 innings of work.
Arizona could have a more refined focus to its approach to the trade market.
According to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, bullpen additions would headline the list of holes to fill.
The Diamondbacks have struggled to produce consistent support in front of closer Archie Bradley, who has six saves in eight appearances.
Andrew Chafin recently was put on the injured list and Hector Rondon and Kevin Ginkel have ERAs over 10.
Arizona is 1.5 games back of San Diego for second place in the National League West and it is third behind the Padres and Colorado in the early wild-card standings.
The Diamondbacks are in this position because they have received strong outings from Merrill Kelly and Zac Gallen at the top of their rotation.
But with Robbie Ray struggling and Madison Bumgarner on the injured list, the Diamondbacks need more production out of the bullpen in case their starters stumble in stretches of the season.
The challenge Arizona, Toronto and others could face in finding improvements is competing with the regular contenders, like the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees, in a market that could be drier if potential sellers believe they can still contend for a playoff spot.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.
Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference.