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Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin anticipating pitching help at MLB trade deadline

The sluggers spoke about their expectations for the trade deadline prior to the Home Run Derby in Cincinnati.

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

CINCINNATI -- The Blue Jays, with their explosive and potentially historic offense, have to be the most fun fourth-place team to watch in the history of baseball. They currently lead MLB in runs (486), OPS (.772), total bases (1,357), and slugging (.441), while ranking within the top five in home runs (115) and average (.264).

Toronto's pitching, on the other hand, has left a lot to be desired. Their staff ERA of 4.18 is the eighth-worst in baseball, leading to a 45-46 record at the All-Star break and constant rumors about pitching additions. With top starters such as the Reds' Johnny Cueto and Phillies' Cole Hamels as well as top relievers like Philly's Jonathan Papelbon and Cincinnati's Aroldis Chapman potentially available in trades this month, the Jays seem likely to make a significant addition.

Jays fans aren't the only ones who would appreciate some reinforcements on the mound. All-Star third baseman and MVP candidate Josh Donaldson believes that adding some arms could take the struggling Jays to the next level.

"I definitely think with the offensive capabilities we’ve proven so far, there probably could be a couple of additions that would be nice," Donaldson said Monday before the Home Run Derby in Cincinnati. "I’m not going to say which ones, but at the same time I definitely think that I wouldn’t be surprised if something does happen."

Donaldson's teammate and fellow All-Star Russell Martin is taking a wider look at his new team, noting that Toronto has the ability to approve in every facet of the game.

"I’m looking forward to battling with whatever we have, and that’s the only way I can go about it," Martin said. "If we get reinforcements, great. If not, we’re still going to compete."

"Lately, I feel like our pitching has been getting better," Martin added. "The one thing is that I think our defense could have been a bit better in the last couple series. Pitching and defense work together, and when our pitching was good, our defense was right there with them, helping them out. I think the one thing that we need to concern ourselves with is just playing better baseball overall. Whether it be situational hitting or playing defense, just making the routine plays, that’s something we need to get better at."

Papelbon, another All-Star who has been extremely vocal on his desire to leave the struggling Phillies, noted that the Jays would be "a good fit" if a trade were to materialize, admitting that he has noticed the Jays' offensive prowess and has been impressed despite not keeping a day-to-day eye on box scores.

"The only time I really look is when I look up and see Toronto drumming somebody 15 to 1 or something like that," Papelbon said. "That pops out because you see 15 or you see double digits up there."

"I think every pitcher would want to pitch behind that kind of run support," Papelbon added. "But then again, I don't think there's any team out there that is clearly ahead of anyone else. No one in any of these divisions are running away with anything. I think it's going to be a tough decision for me and it's not going to be really easy."

With three of the top bullpen trade candidates (Papelbon, Chapman, and the Brewers' Francisco Rodriguez) in the National League's bullpen this week, Donaldson and Martin recognize that they may be going up against a future teammate or two.

"Chapman can throw 104 miles an hour, so that speaks for itself," Martin said. "K-Rod is a guy who has been in runs before, been in the playoffs, and understands what it’s all about and how to finish games. I think any team that would have those guys would appreciate it and be happy about it."

"Chapman throws gas, everybody knows that," Donaldson added. "Papelbon, that guy has proven he can do it on the big stage and win a World Series in the AL East. He’s done it for the Phillies, who haven’t necessarily been living up to their expectations. K-Rod has been doing it forever. He doesn’t have the same stuff that he had when he had 60 or something saves, but he’s learned how to pitch and he’s obviously done a great job for the Brewers for the last couple years."