Through some high profile moves, the Toronto Blue Jays have been sending a not so subtle message
The Toronto Blue Jays have been in the headlines for the wrong reasons this summer. Firstly, they’ve been kind of bad. So, you know, people couldn’t stop talking about how monumentally they had fallen. But, once the reality of 2018 settled in, a resignation sunk in and it took some rather big stories of trades. Though the J.A. Happ trade finally happened,it didn’t garner nearly as much attention as it would have had it taken place a few years ago. Trade Deadlines ain’t what they used to be.
But, two trades that did bring a lot of attention and discussion were those of Roberto Osuna and Josh Donaldson. And from these trades, we can make some logical statements about the messaging the Blue Jays front office is sending.
Without getting into the question of guilt, or the legal framework around the charges against Osuna, it is very clear that the Blue Jays wanted to remove themselves from even mention of domestic violence. Given that Osuna is young and one of the best closers in baseball AND won’t be a free agent until 2021, they team certainly did not have to trade him. Sure, he would be making more and more money every year, but Toronto has no one who could step in and fill the role easily, so it is not like he was expendable.
No, the trade was all about disassociating the organization from the type of accusations facing Osuna. While many of us would subscribe to the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ line of thinking, the club simply did not want the issue hanging over their heads, even if they do agree with those fans. There seemed to be an equally large number of people who were ready to send him to anyone who would take him for whatever they could get. The team made the decision to try and get themselves a closer, but more importantly they felt it important to rid their organization of the connection with domestic violence, sending a clear message to others in their organization and those who follow it.
In the case of Josh Donaldson, GM, Ross Atkins has commented that the move was the “best thing for the organization”, while Donaldson has things to say, but chooses not at this time. However, he did comment a while back that he was not on board with the organization’s idea of healing from his injury. Obviously, when people make comments publicly, usually there is more to it. We know that the team has put a lot of effort (and money) into their high performance department. They are quite proud of training regimes and whatnot.
If a player is a) going to buck at following the program the employer asks of them and b) speak out against said program, you can bet that player is going to find themselves on the outs.
This is not to say that either party in this is correct. that is not for me to say. But, it is very clear where the club stands on this issue. At one time, they appeared to be looking to extend Donaldson, but the relationship devolved to possibly a mid-season trade, then to a qualifying offer, then to trading him for anything better than a draft pick. And, in actuality, they were worried he would accept the qualifying offer. They did not want to risk having his negativity (for lack of a better word) toward their program in the organization.
Sure, they can tell you that Julian Merryweather could impact their big league club next season, but this deal wasn’t about landing him. With all due respect, he is not a one for one kind of player with Josh Donaldson. They got a return for a product they wanted to part with. And, in doing so, they sent yet another strong message: the Toronto Blue Jays want their players to do what the organization has put effort into showing works. If the player doesn’t want to ‘get with the program’, they won’t be around much longer.
What really got me thinking about this is Atkins speaking on Baseball Central where he said that the guys they’re calling up have not only performed, but have ‘done it the right way’. They want guys who will be good teammates and all that. When I spoke to Mark Shapiro for the JFtC Guide to the 2018 Toronto Blue Jays (man, that feels like forever ago), he said they’re looking to build a player where you know they’re a Toronto Blue Jay; they all do things one way, etc etc etc. When I asked himw hat that would look like, he skirted it by saying “You’ll look on the field and know”.
The point here is that, for the first time in a long time, the Toronto Blue Jays are sending a message:
Thing about Atkins saying #BlueJays calling up guys who are 'doing it the right way' is that he really means guys who are doing what they're told.
This summer has shown us they want players who act, play and train the way the FO wants.
— ░D░O░Y░L░E░ (@DoyleJFtC) September 5, 2018
I am not going to choose a side in all of this. That’s not what this post is for. Honestly, I couldn’t anyway. I see both sides. But, what interests me is that there is actually a side developing from the Blue Jays organization. Or, at least there is one being put out in the open. The Toronto Blue Jays are building an image and they will not keep players who do not go along with that, or fit into it.
Rightly or wrongly, this front office has an idea of what it wants its name to be associated with. Whether the high performance directives are correct remains to be seen, but this front office believes in it enough to say that no player is above it. Whether Osuna is guilty, or not, this front office wanted nothing to do with the two “domestic violence”.
This summer, the Toronto Blue Jays may not have accomplished much on the field, but they have certainly started building an image by sending a very clear message to the world.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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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.