With the trade deadline approaching, the Toronto Blue Jays find themselves in a difficult position. Their 35-36 record is a disappointing start for a team that won 89 games a year ago. The Blue Jays lost in the AL Wild Card round last season and are 4.5 games back in the Wild Card race in 2024.

A record near .500 is not the worst-case scenario, with less than half of the MLB season complete. Still, with little chance of contending in the AL East (Toronto is 13.5 games back of the New York Yankees) and just an 8.9% chance of making the postseason (per Baseball Reference), the Blue Jays must decide if they want to become sellers at the MLB trade deadline or get aggressive and push for a fourth playoff appearance in five seasons.

Toronto general manager Ross Atkins has made it clear that he does not plan on trading away franchise cornerstones Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette. That does not mean he will not consider offers for other key players. With so much to consider, here are two early-season trades the Blue Jays must make.

Send RHP Connor Cooke to the Tampa Bay Rays for Jason Adam

Two of Toronto's key late-inning relievers — Jordan Romano and Erik Swanson — have struggled this season. Romano has a 6.59 ERA on the year and carries and expected ERA that is even worse at 7.32. The Blue Jays closer is in the midst of his second IL stint of the season as he deals with a recurring elbow issue. Swanson saw his ERA jump from 2.97 last year to 9.22 this season, earning him a demotion to Triple-A. With both players failing to meet expectations, plus Yimi Garcia ending up on the IL, Toronto needs another high-leverage reliever.

Like the Blue Jays, the Tampa Bay Rays are also toeing the line between contender and seller. If this team does not improve in the coming weeks, the Blue Jays could poach from Tampa's deep bullpen. Jason Adam has a 2.26 ERA in his three years with the Rays and has experience as a ninth-inning man. Adam is a dependable reliever and one of many names in a deep Tampa Bay pen that could be available before the MLB trade deadline. He will also not be a free agent until 2027.

The Rays receive right-hander Connor Cooke, a hard-throwing right-hander who ranks as the #19 prospect in the Blue Jays farm system.

LHP Adam Macko and 3B/1B Damiano Palmegiani to the Chicago White Sox for Erick Fedde

The Blue Jays have four solid starting pitchers in Jose Berrios, Kevin Gausman, Yusei Kikuchi, and Chris Bassitt. But the fifth starting spot has been a problem all year for Toronto. Alex Manoah's roller-coaster season is over as he undergoes elbow surgery. In his absence, Bowden Francis has struggled while Yariel Rodriguez also finds himself on the IL. Acquiring a dependable number-five starter is a must for the Jays.

After a successful year in the Korean Baseball Organization, earning the equivalent of the MVP and Cy Young award, Erick Fedde has smoothly transitioned back to baseball in the United States. Fedde has a 3.09 ERA through 15 starts while tying a career-best with 8.6 strikeouts per nine innings. Opponents are batting just .185 against a revamped curveball that can now be classified as a sweeper. Fedde is a strong but affordable trade target to strengthen the Blue Jays starting rotation, which will only cost Toronto its #9 and #14 prospects.