The Toronto Blue Jays offseason looks to be a rather positive one as they take steps forward, but it is really the first of many steps toward contention
The Toronto Blue Jays have created a bit of a buzz about their offseason. We know that they have money to spend and very clearly will look to add pieces. And, let’s be honest, after losing 95 games, you have to think that it can only go up from here. Right? RIGHT?! The truth is that, despite what look so to be an energetic, positive offseason, we shouldn’t expect an astronomical change so quickly. Instead, whatever moves are made will be just the beginning of a process that could take a while.
The first real move of the offseason was to bring in Chase Anderson from Milwaukee. This move created some excitement for a couple reasons. Firstly, with Anderson set to make $8.5M, and really being a 4th or 5th starter, it shows that the Blue Jays are willing to use money to address their needs, which is something that this front office hasn’t really done much of since they took over in Toronto.
Secondly, if the Blue Jays are willing to spend $8.5M to address just one spot in their rotation, it gives you at least a little cause to dream about how they could go about obtaining a #1 or #2 starter. There is more work to be done in the rotation, but one has to think that the club is ready, willing and able to possibly throw money at the issue – with the caveat that they won’t be stupid about it. Again, that gives reason for excitement as fans try and figure out the big name that will take the Blue Jays suddenly big money.
At Sportsnet, Ben Nicholson-Smith does an excellent job breaking down what we should think about the Blue Jays meeting with free agent catcher, Yasmani Grandal. The fact that GM, Ross Atkins, is openly talking about meeting with a proven talent like that is almost new territory for Blue Jays fans. Sure, he could be looking to use the media to drive prices up for his catchers, who’ve been garnering interest form other clubs. Or, he could be looking to draw more interest in his catchers by looking to be bringing on a better one. There are a number of reasons why he is doing what he is doing, but the fact remains that over the last couple of offseasons, there is no way that talking to high end free agents would even be a thing. It’s exciting.
Before we start dreaming too deeply, we really need to appreciate what this offseason is. While it isn’t hard to make improvements on a 95 loss season, we shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that the Toronto Blue Jays are going to challenge for the AL East title, or even a Wild Card spot. They’re not there yet.
And, while the front office has done a number of media spots and talked about having money to spend, having flexibility and making improvements, they have also made sure not to lead fans into thinking that they should plan any parades.
At Fangraphs, David Laurila spoke with several GMs and first on his list was Ross Atkins who had some very sobering things to say. He asks for patience, which he acknowledges is a hard ask. He even goes so far as to empathize with fans: “Our fans are extremely important to us, and it’s not as though [GMs] don’t feel the same things. It’s very tough on us, physically and emotionally, to not be winning.”
Whether fans will buy what he’s saying or not is irrelevant, really. But, if he is sincere, it must be killing him to follow the path he believes is correct. Rather than using his farm, which is among MLB’s top systems, to pull off mega deals in an attempt to rush the timeline a la Alex Anthopoulos, he insists that a proper rebuild takes time: “I always think about Pat Gillick, and the importance he put on having that core come up together, then making sure that when he did aggressively add, it was the most optimal time.”
If we’re being realistic about where the Blue Jays are (and we set aside the excitement over what could be), it is rather obvious that the winter after losing 95 games is not the time to go all in and attempt to make it all up in a few blockbuster deals. Sure, that would be an awesome winter, but we know all too well that that doesn’t often work. AA failed at it a couple times. No, instead, we know that Toronto has a young, exciting team, but they are not ready to challenge for any banners.
This offseason will go a long way to heading in that direction, but it is just the beginning. Atkins says as much: “This offseason will be very important as we look to add, but so will the [trade] deadline, and next offseason. We hope to build around, and complement, that core on a year in, year out basis. And we’ll have the support of our ownership to do that.”
We shouldn’t expect franchise altering deals from this front office. Instead, we should be looking for the alteration(s) to be more of a slow boil. And, if you think about it, that makes for not just an exciting next few months, but the summer and the following winter. In fact, what we’re seeing right now is the beginning of the positive side of a rebuild. We’ve been through the subtraction phase; it sucked. Now, we’re entering the addition phase, which will be positive and exciting.
But, it won’t be quick. It won’t be done over the next couple months. It will take longer than that. The good news is that we’re on the ground floor and it is already exciting. Going up!
*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.