After looking into internal options, the Toronto Blue Jays should really look outside the organization to compete in 2017
With not much else going on in baseball, it is tough to enjoy the Hot Stove season for what it really is. Now, it looks as though things could take a little longer to play out with word that teams very well could skip the Winter Meetings if the new CBA does not get ironed out. That would force the rumor mill to grind to a complete halt, if it hasn’t already.
This will have a dramatic impact on the Toronto Blue Jays. See, right now, they are facing decisions on several key spots on their roster. How they go about addressing these concerns very much depends on the outcome of the CBA talks. In fact, for the Toronto Blue Jays, the pause button has been hit because they are very clearly looking to address their needs by way of free agency, with trades as their backup plan. This is how it should be.
Yesterday, our very own Roy-Z observed that the Blue Jays do not need to spend money on fancy free agents, if they don’t want to. They don’t need to be forced into any deals there, or via trade. Roy’s argument is that they already possess several potential impact options in their organization that could be counted on to fill holes. For example, Rowdy Tellez has had himself a great 2016 season and Chad Girodo has established himself as a candidate for a bullpen spot. That is not even mentioning Dalton Pompey, who has nothing left to prove in AAA.
Roy has a point. There are several options for the Blue Jays to consider. The above players are talented. But, the assertion here is that they are not enough; the Blue Jays need to go beyond their own backyard to contend in 2017.
Everyone knows how much love I have for Dalton Pompey. If you don’t, feel free to check it out HERE and HERE. I’ll wait…I’m waiting because I want you to understand that I believe Pompey is deserving of a legitimate shot at being an everyday outfielder for the big league club. But, you can bet that Ross Atkins is not going to rely so much on any sentimentality around the Canadian. Despite how much we believe in Pompey, the GM has to think about how he is going to compete this coming season.
Right now, the Blue Jays have a core of Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin and Troy Tulowitzki (among others) to go along with a starting rotation that is not only set, but competed and outperformed many in the American League. This team is built to win now. Does this afford them the luxury of trying out several people in key spots? I want Pompey to get his shot, but the team is not likely to be willing to give him the leash that goes along with a legit shot. Too much is at stake. And, if we’re saying that about Pompey, we most are definitely saying that about guys like Tellez. Yes, he looks promising, but 2017 won’t be hinged on “promising”.
What happens if, and when, these internal options struggle? If that is the ceiling of the club’s depth, they are in trouble. Instead, they should be looking to raise the floor of their talent. By moving a guy like Pompey down on your depth charts, you are providing yourself with the quality depth required to not only survive a full season, but to compete against what looks to be a very talented American League. If we’ve seen anything over the last months of the season, teams need as much high quality as they can assemble for as many positions as they can. Competition around the league demands it.
But, let’s focus on where that talent will come from. The Blue Jays have money. For real. We’ve heard this as an urban legend kind of myth in years past. We always had the feeling that Rogers ownership had enough money to spend, but they wouldn’t. This time around, we actually know there is money to spend. We know this because of the offers that have been made to Brett Cecil and Edwin Encarnacion. While the exact figures are not known, the 3 year deal to Cecil must have been even somewhat significant to not be laughed out of the room. And, if there is even close to the $80M rumored to have been offered to Edwin, there is money.
That is not to suggest that the Blue Jays will go around making it rain like they’re in a hip hop video. That’s not their style. Having money and being stupid with it are two different things. They will be smart with it. They won’t force a deal just for the sake of making one. But, in order to bring in that floor raising talent, you have to go outside of the organization.
Aside from having money, Ross Atkins has also made comments about entering into trade talks this winter. He has said that the club very well could deal 4-5 pieces to bring in that talent. While that could be smoke and mirrors, it does point to the team looking elsewhere to fill holes. Any type of trade is going to cost a significant return, which would cause many to rethink the strategy. But, again, if the talent were already in the organization, trades wouldn’t be necessary. But, it isn’t.
Roy had a point in that promoting from within could be a cost effective way to fill holes. It could also work out brilliantly and one or two guys could take off and surprise everyone. The likelihood of that happening is slim, though. When you’re in the position of the Blue Jays, you don’t want to hang your hopes on crossing your fingers. Instead, you want to provide yourself with as many sure bets as you can. While some will say there are no sure bets in life, let alone baseball, that shouldn’t stop a team from trying to collect them.
The Blue Jays current situation dictates that bringing in options from outside the organization is the way to augment an already competitive team. They are not at a stage where they need to settle for young, unproven talent to fill spots. In fact, the whole notion of “filling spots” is not the right approach. Rather than simply looking for warm bodies to round out the roster to save a few bucks, the Blue Jays should be looking to do whatever it takes to bring themselves as close to a championship as they can. That doesn’t happen by building from within.
*Featured Image Credit: C Stem- JFtC
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.