The way the Blue Jays’ offseason had gone, one has to wonder if they’ve created problems for themselves
The Toronto Blue Jays have told anyone who will listen that they are being aggressive in their attempts to improve upon their 95 losses in 2019. With several needs, including rebuilding their starting rotation, this is good news. The trade market and free agency offer quite a few options that are both obvious and not. A club has to explore so many avenues and be able to pivot quickly. By all accounts, this suits the Blue Jays just fine, but have they shot themselves in the foot by playing things this way?
The front office, headed by Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins have been very meticulous about how they’ve gone about restocking the farm system and rebuilding the big league club. They’ve done so with an approach that has them collecting information and pouring over data all the time. It’s what they do. But, what is interesting is that, while it is what they’re known for, it may actually be working against them.
In a piece by Shi Davidi, we hear the perception of the Toronto Blue Jays. Shi writes, “One frustrated agent lamented how the Blue Jays “are 90 per cent due diligence that doesn’t go anywhere.” Now, Shi goes on to say that might be a bit harsh, but we live in a world where perception is reality and if that is how the baseball world sees Atkins & Co, it can only mean trouble for the work that lies ahead.
When the offseason started, it was really easy to get excited about the situation of the Blue Jays. They have a young, exciting core of studs and enough money to surround them with quality pitching, which was the ultimate goal. The word “aggressive” was being thrown around and we were eating it up. We dared to dream, even if we had this overwhelming feeling that we shouldn’t.
As we watched names like Zack Wheeler fly off the shelf, we came back down to earth and started looking at reasonable options instead. But, when we hear that Toronto offered comparable money to Kyle Gibson, but he chose Texas instead it’s difficult to figure out what the front office means when they say “aggressive”. Atkins took Charlie Montoyo to the home of Mike Moustakas in an attempt to get him to sign, but the third baseman chose to sign with Cinci to play second. They also lost out on Kevin Gausman and Didi Gregorius, to whom they couldn’t give enough time at short stop. In each of these cases, one has to wonder just what “aggressive” might have looked like.
Obviously, each free agent is looking for something different, but one has to think that if the Blue Jays are going to be so open about their intentions of aggression, then why haven’t they been able to do better than Tanner Roark? One could argue that the 95 losses of 2019 look pretty bad to free agents, but it isn’t that difficult to show that the 2020 team will be better. I already did that HERE. Whatever their approach had been, they are starting to see that it was not working for them.
In a separate piece from Shi Davidi, we learn that the Blue Jays had to change course: “In combination with what turned out to be a bull market, the Blue Jays pivoted, reconciling that in order to get some business done, they were going to have to extend beyond their comfort zone to land players.” This explains why we see the somewhat surprising details of the Roark deal. But, what does it mean for the rest of the offseason?
The Blue Jays insist that there are still opportunities out there on the free agent market and via the trade route. And, there are. We continue to hear of their interest in Hyun-Jin Ryu, but can we really see them doing what it takes to get one of the best remaining pitching options to sign in Toronto? They recently lost out on Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, who they’d also been linked to all offseason. Are the Blue Jays tired of missing out? Will they abandon their methodical approach, knowing full well that it may actually be causing problems for them? Will they ignore their logic and spend more than their comfortable with?
The same can be said for the trade market. This front office has done excellent work in rebuilding the farm. Just how intent are they on dipping into it to take on a Starling Marte and Chris Archer package? A David Price and Andrew Benintendi package? Sure, this is not likely the offseason where you pull off a franchise altering trade and send the Crime Dog to San Diego, but if improvements are going to be made, this Blue Jays club is going to have to start rethinking how they make them.
“You’re constantly having discussions with all of them and weighing what the potential acquisition costs are, what the alternatives are, but you’re also weighing different constructs, weighing the potential of multiples instead of just one and what does that mean. And always with the backdrop of a budget and opportunities on the trade front.” There’s lots of offseason left and there are improvements out there to be obtained. But, one has to wonder if the Toronto Blue Jays have shot themselves in the foot by overthinking every single “construct”, etc.
Perhaps, the following applies here: ‘Doing things the way you’ve always done will give you what you’ve always got’. Maybe Ross Atkins & co are learning that their best laid plans for this offseason need to be adjusted, otherwise, they will have shot themselves in the foot and we will be getting what we always got: not the best available, but the best the club could get.
*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.