With the Blue Jays’ organizational cupboards full and an improved on field product, 2020 could be a rather interesting year for them
The Toronto Blue Jays went into the offseason with literal excitement over their situation. With money to spend and a rather nice looking farm system, they had the potential to make some noise. Of course, that led to some overzealous expectations from some, who were only going to be left disappointed since they set their sights so high. What the Blue Jays did was more quiet, for the most part, and it maintained their rather exciting position heading into the 2020 season.
First of all, anything better than losing 95 games has to be more exciting, right? Well, I suppose losing 94 games wouldn’t be, but you get the point. Toronto’s front office made several moves that addressed needs and raised the floor of expectations for this coming season.
The trade for Chase Anderson and the signings of Tanner Roark and Hyun-Jin Ryu make the starting rotation look respectable compared to the lackluster revolving door of 2019. With Matt Shoemaker and Ryan Borucki coming back from injuries, one has to like the look of their starting 5.
The bullpen remains a question mark of sorts at the moment. If the season were to start today, the additions of Anthony Bass and Shun Yamaguchi are the only moves made to improve the group, but will be welcomed with open arms. There is still plenty of time in the offseason to look for the vintage front office reliever who could be flipped at the July Trade Deadline. So, there is still room for improvement. However, even if there isn’t, pitching depth has become less worrisome this winter. There are plenty of options in house to rotate through the bullpen depending upon effectiveness.
The lineup will not feature the likes of Socrates Brito and it looks like guys like Brandon Drury will be used in back up roles only. So, the position players appear to be set at the moment, even if no one has a sweet clue what the plan is for center field. Regardless of Randal Grichuk being the guy there, or some sort of platoon, the pieces are already on the roster.
So, the Toronto Blue Jays will head to Dunedin, Florida and check out the renovations, knowing their roster is pretty much set. The front office will do so with the comfort of being in a pretty decent position as the season wears on. They’ve got depth (can you ever have enough?), they still have money and, most importantly to this front office, they still have their farm system in tact.
This could be very important as we move into the summer. We know the Blue Jays will be better. Just how much better they will be remains to be seen. At the beginning of December, I wrote that they could, in theory, improve by 20 games. 87 wins could very well put them in the Wild Card conversation. That might sound crazy, considering the powerhouse Yankees and Rays, but the club has since added Ryu, which make sit even more possible than when I originally wrote it.
In theory, by the time July rolls around, this Blue Jays team could well be in the hunt for a playoff spot. Again, odds are not in their favour, but if you squint really hard, you could see it happening. If that is the case, the front office will have to make a decision, one that will come with some serious fan pressure.
2020 is not supposed to be the year the Blue Jays ‘go for it’. In many ways, they have several players who need to show what they can do once and for all. Rowdy Tellez, Anthony Alford, Drury, Teoscar Hernandez and others have varying levels of improvements to make if they’re going to be considered part of the future. The 2020 season will provide them that opportunity without the pressure of needing to win.
But, what if this team surprises even the front office? What if they are in the hunt for a playoff spot? Because of their financial flexibility and their prospect capital, they very well could make a move or two that gives them a push. They won’t go all Alex Anthopoulos, the 2015 version of whom would love to be in the position this club is in right now. But, it is possible for them to make a deal in an attempt to ride the earlier than expected success. Of course, we know this front office won’t pay for rentals, preferring years of control, which means they might have to pay more. The good news is that they have the capital and payroll space to do so…if they choose.
Or, the front office could simply let 2020 play out how it will play out and not worry about even trying ti make the playoffs. That would mean sticking to their plan and, if they’re winning, ignoring the calls from vocal members of the fanbase. How much would they be willing to ignore those screaming for moves to push for the playoffs? Who knows. But, if they can ignore them, they will be buying more time for their farm to further develop. The MLB draft, where Toronto picks rather high, would have happened and they would have added even more value. It could pay off in the long run to leave the farm alone and let their future stars grow.
This offseason has resulted in some excitement around the Blue Jays. Negativity is starting to give way to optimism. And, for the front office, there may not be a better position to be in. They have money, prospects, an improved product and a plan. They will likely have considered all of the above and will have to decide how to navigate it. The good news for them is that they are in the driver’s seat, which is a good place to be.
*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.