The Toronto Blue Jays continue to establish themselves as the AL East team to beat. Behind the big bats of Edwin Encarnacion with 20 homers, a rate of about once every 14 times at bat, and Jose Bautista who is batting .312 with 51 runs, and a cool 48 RBIs.
Like fireworks, bats are fun to watch, but what gets a team through a long, hot summer is pitching, and if they want to keep this dream season alive, the Blue Jays will need some more studs in the rotation behind Mark Buehrle, who is putting together another good year. R.A. Dickey is sitting at 6-5 right now, and the other starters are keeping up, but none really stand out.
Jeff Samardzija of the struggling Chicago Cubs is making a lot of contenders drool right now, and rumors abound about where he will end up.
But, according to CBS Sports, The Blue Jay's front office prefers James Shields.
They see him as a less expensive, effective alternative, and one that doesn't mean they have to clean out their farm system.
"We can't keep trading our prospects," a member of the Jays organization told CBS's Jon Heyman.
They know to get a sniff at Samardzija, who doesn't hit free agency until after the 2015 season, a team will need to come off quite a bit.
That said, the Kansas City Royals ace won't come at a rock bottom price, though. Shields currently has a 3.44 ERA and 1.26 WHIP, and he has been a consistent go-to pitcher over the last few years.
Another possible target for the Blue Jays may be Samardzija's teamate Jason Hammel. He struck out nine on Monday but did not get a decision in the Cubs' 5-4, extra inning win over the Marlins. Many believe he could be the next pitcher from the Cubs starters dealt by the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, contrary to all the talk about Samardzija, and he would not command as much from a team to pick-up.
According to MLB.com, Hammels see's the trade talks as part of the deal, and understands he is on the way out fo Chicago soon.
"I knew about it coming in," Hammel told MLB.com's Carrie Muskat on Tuesday. "It came with the territory and I understand that. I wouldn't sign here if I wasn't capable of dealing with it.
"I just keep going about my business every day," he said.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the Cubs have already had talks with several teams regarding Hammel, the Jays being among the most interested.
Hammel has a 3.02 ERA and a WHIP of 1.02, with 85 Ks over 89.1 innings so far this season.