Many eyes will be on how the Blue Jays’ front office navigates this coming offseason, but you can bet they won’t do anything stupid
The Toronto Blue Jays front office have upset a lot of fans. They’re blamed for Edwin Encarnacion leaving (even though they offered him more money than he took), they were upset about Jose Bautista leaving (not the front office’s fault the player declined) and then there was the Josh Donaldson saga. But, let’s be real, this front office has been public enemy numero uno since they replaced the Bringer of Playoffs, Alex Anthopoulos.
There is a sense that there is absolutely nothing this front office can do that won’t be met with ranting and raving. They tried to extend the shelf life on a rapidly expiring window of contention, which was destined to close whether they took over, or not. Not shockingly, it didn’t work. Mark Shapiro, Ross Atkins and company were not surprised by this. Not at all. The ‘on the fly’ rebuild of 2015 was not meant to last. It couldn’t. Making such a July splash is counter intuitive to maintaining years of contention.
This front office knew it, but they also knew that fans would pay to see a competitive team. So, they tried. Realistically, they did the best they could without completely surrendering their beliefs and philosophy. It didn’t work. Adding guys like Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce weren’t really expected to put this team into the playoffs, were they?
And, no one could have seen such a Murphy’s Law of a season unfold for this club. I’m not about to slag on Atkins or Shapiro for what transpired this year. I’m definitely not going to call for their heads over letting this team fall. Because while all of this was happening, they were steadfast in their dedication to improving upon a bottom of the league farm system. Generally, they continue to make sound, logical decisions, even if unpopular.
And, what do you know? In short order, they have built one of the top 5! AND, they have the best prospect in all of baseball in AAA, ready to make his big league debut next season. I have never been one for prospect hoarding. They only break your heart. I have been more of a ‘do what you need to do to win at the highest level’. Ask anyone who plays fantasy baseball with me, I love big trades and I cannot lie. Sometimes, I make them even if they don’t make sense. It’s exciting. So, I loved all of the AA trades, even if they turned into the 2013 season. Well, I’ll clarify that the R.A. Dickey deal has never looked good to me. Never will.
However, the current state of the Toronto Blue Jays has me singing a different tune. On the most recent episode of the Jays From the Couch Radio podcast, Ryan Mueller (our prospect guru) had a great discussion on the young talent in the Blue Jays’ system. Give it a listen, because it’s pretty good. Just sayin’.
Anyway, in the episode, you hear me talk about how excited I am about the overall talent level this system has making its way closer and closer to Rogers Centre. There hasn’t been a time in recent memory where there are this many potential impact youngsters making their way up; not under AA and certainly not under JP Ricciardi. And, I’m not even talking about one guy, even though Vladimir Guerrero Jr is enough to get excited about by himself. I’m talking Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Kevin Smith, T.J. Zeuch and so on and so on. It is a deep pool. Obviously, not everyone will come up and have a huge impact, but the potential is there and that’s exciting.
As the club heads into an offseason that precedes a season that looks to be a write off (though, it could be surprisingly good…but, likely not), this front office has some decisions to make. They could use the talent they do have and trade to add to their roster. Or, they could use some freed up money to plug holes. The latter option is annoying because it seems like throwing money onto a fire pit. What’s the point? Sure, you could find some ‘rebound’ type guys and pay them a discounted price, one supposes. But, there isn’t much point to pulling off a Frank Thomas type deal from years ago. The Blue Jays aren’t even going to pretend their competing.
So, that leaves the trade route. This is where the front office needs to tread lightly. In fact, this is where they could lose the support I’ve been willing to give them at every turn. Everything else up to this point, I’ve been able to see logic in, even if I initially hated it. However, the one thing that will push me over the edge is dipping into the high ceiling pool just to plug some holes for a write off season. It says here and now that I will turn on them. Forever. That’s how strongly I feel about this system.
The good news is that Ross Atkins will avoid this fate – because, you know, my support is incredibly important to him… There is no way this front office will bring my fear to reality. Instead, they’ll likely do what Ryan Mueller suggested on the podcast: they’ll look to pull of deals similar to what they did to obtain Aledmys Diaz and Randal Grichuk. You’ll recall that they sent a flawed Conner Greene, Dominic Leone and J.B. Woodman to St Louis in two separate transactions. Woodman has been cut loose, Leone has tossed just 22 innings for the Cards and Greene has been moved to the bullpen.
Look for them to play around with guys who might be Rule 5 eligible and/or on the 40 man roster bubble. They’ll need to sort out their roster as there is a lot up in the air right now. They could package a couple guys they don’t see making an impact in the future for one guy who they do. Unfortunately, a Dwight Smith Jr. comes to mind. Or, a Dalton Pompey. These type of deals can help the big league club, help any sort of 40man roster crunch and keep their shiny prospects right where they belong.
The Blue Jays front office is not stupid. If they are going to trade pieces, they will do so in a way that maintains their system integrity. So, all of those names you fell in love with over the summer because they were a positive distraction from the gong show going on in the bigs aren’t going anywhere. My support for this front office means too much to them for that to happen. Or, maybe it’s the revenue from ticket sales that will be generated from young, exciting studs…
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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.