The August 31st trade deadline is just eight days away. The Blue Jays, along with the other 29 MLB organizations, have some decisions to make.
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Essentially there are three ways they could go. They can decide to be buyers and go for it in 2020. They could be sellers, to continue building for the future. Or they could stand pat and keep the players they currently have.
Let’s take a look at each possibility
Expanded playoffs in 2020 means that eight teams per league will qualify for postseason play instead of the usual five. At the time of writing, Toronto is 13-13 and tied for the 8th and final American League playoff spot. This in large part is due to a six game win streak they had earlier this week.
A playoff berth just one year after posting a record of 67-95 would be a huge step forward for the team. Realistically though it isn’t likely the Jays will be serious contenders for the 2020 World Series.
When you look at championship caliber teams, they are usually very solid throughout their roster, with lots of ways to win and few weaknesses. The Blue Jays are young, talented and improving but they have work to do before they can reasonably be expected to win it all.
This isn’t the time for them to have an “all in” trade deadline like they did in 2015, particularly if the return would be one year rental players like David Price was. The time to do that is when the team is close to winning it all but just needs a few upgrades. If they can make reasonable upgrades to the team without giving up significant prospect capital to do it, that could be worth while. It would also be much more worth while for Toronto if they can trade for someone who is under team control beyond 2020 and can conceivably help them in the future.
From 2017-2019, the Jays were sellers rather than buyers at the trade deadline. Now that they find themselves in realistic contention for a playoff spot, I wouldn’t think they would look to off load players on expiring contracts who are playing well and could help them qualify for the 2020 postseason.
Ken Giles (currently on the IL), Anthony Bass, Joe Panik and Matt Shoemaker (also on the IL) are all eligible for free agency after this season. In the past I have written that the Jays should seriously consider contract extensions for Giles and Shoe. Unfortunately this has yet to happen and with each passing day it seems less and less likely, especially where questions exist about their ability to stay healthy.
It’s one thing to trade veterans for prospects in a season where there is little chance to contend. It would send the fans entirely the wrong message to do so this season. While they may not be a championship team in 2020, a playoff berth is a significant step forward worth pursuing, not abandoning. Giving this group a taste of the MLB postseason can only help with their future development.
This isn’t the year to be sellers
There could actually be some benefit to keeping the players they have and seeing how far they can go with them. That way they will have a much better idea who they think can help them legitimately contend in 2021 and beyond, and who they need to consider replacing.
My expectation is the Toronto Blue Jays will try to add a player or two but only if it doesn’t cost them too much in terms of prospects.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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