The Toronto Blue Jays front office has their own approach to building a contender, which is much different than the Alex Anthopoulos of old
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The Toronto Blue Jays are in an exciting place these days as they are still basking in the afterglow of signing the largest contract in franchise history, landing an elite hitter in George Springer and adding some rather nice depth to their bullpen. We also have been told that they are not done yet. There are still moves to be made and areas to address and this is where the current front office and the previous differ.
The Mark Shapiro/Ross Atkins regime is one that is calculated, analytics driven and somewhat cautious. They spend a great deal of time and effort crunching numbers and examining angles to just about every decision they make. They have rebuilt the farm system in a matter of a few years through excellent scouting and shrewd dealings. They have exercised restraint (mostly) in making roster moves. Sure, they offered big money to Edwin Encarnacion, but they set a limit and were willing to walk away. They have shown this approach multiple times. They very much send the message that they have evaluations and will not deviate from them.
One could argue that the signings of Hyun-Jin Ryu and George Springer deviate from that in that they had to pay a bit more than other teams. For example, they had to add an extra year to Ryu’s deal and they paid $150M for Springer, when other teams felt it was an overpay. These signings reflect the calculated approach to taking on risk. In these situations, the “extra” money or years were deemed to be worth the risk. The Blue Jays are in a position to make some serious noise in the AL East and to do so, taking on more makes sense whereas it didn’t 3 years ago.
The real fun in this exercise is to compare how the previous General Manager, Alex Anthopoulos would have handled this situation. The argument can be made that the Blue Jays are very close to challenging for a division title and it might be the time to go “all in”, which is right up the alley of the former GM. Of course, he has changed his ways a bit in Atlanta, exercising a bit more caution. Perhaps, he has learned a lesson from his previous efforts. But, if he were in charge of the team’s current situation a few years ago, things would potentially be even more exciting than they are right now.
Think back to the November, 2012. Alex Anthopoulos pulled off an “all in” type deal that landed the Blue Jays Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonafacio and John Buck. The rather expensive group cost Toronto a crop of young talent in for Henderson Alvarez, Adeiny Hechavarria, Yunel Escobar, Jake Marisnick, Anthony Desclafani, Justin Nicolino and Jeff Mathis. It was very much a ‘caution to the wind’ type of deal in an effort to “go for it”. Of course, it did not work, but it was a risk that AA was willing to take.
Of course, we all remember the summer of 2015 when the Blue Jays were a game under .500 and within striking distance of their first playoff appearance in 22 years. Smelling the playoffs, AA went on a spree landing Troy Tulowitzki, David Price, LaTroy Hawkins, Mark Lowe, Ben Revere. The pure joy was palpable as the entire country was whipped into a frenzy over their team “going for it”. Indeed, it was AA’s lack of fear that led to these deals and an eventual division title. Risking the farm was something he didn’t worry about because “flags fly forever”…even if new management disagreed with it.
Bringing it back to today, the Blue Jays are very much in a position that they could return to the playoffs and should be looking to add pieces to extend their appearance. If Alex Anthopoulos (of old) were still in charge, there could be some very serious trades being made.
We know that the Blue Jays need an everyday third base option and at least one more quality starter. There are potential options out there. The Chicago Cubs could be willing to package Kyle Hendricks with Kris Bryant to shed the hefty salary attached to the former MVP third baseman. It would be an expensive trade for the Blue Jays, but one that would address several needs and certainly help them in their pursuit of postseason glory.
The Reds have Luis Castillo and Mike Moustakas or Eugenio Suarez. The Rockies have Nolan Arenado and his MASSIVE contract and German Marquez that would certainly look good. The Oakland A’s have a rather nice third baseman in Matt Chapman. Would AA try to pull a Josh Donaldson 2.0 trade? He wasn’t afraid to get crazy in landing the 2015 MVP, so it is entirely possible.
All of these packages (if they’re even available) would cost a mint, but they are risky moves that the old AA would not be afraid to at least consider. With the financial flexibility the current Blue Jays have, the rather young star studded lineup and the highly regarded farm system, you can bet that there would be at least one mega deal to be made from him.
While it is fun to think about what could be, the reality is that not even Alex Anthopoulos would repeat his past craziness. He has learned some things since then and has altered his approach. As well, there is no evidence that the current “Shapkins” regime is afraid to make those types of trades. Time will tell if they can actually pull the trigger. The conditions are there for them to, but the difference here is that it seems highly unlikely that that they would adopt a classic AA approach.
We know this front office loves their prospect capital since it is the foundation upon which their perennial contender is built. So, they are loathe to pillage the system to make a huge trade or two. Of course, they could prove me wrong and pull off one of the above deals, but that seems highly unlikely. Instead, they’ll continue to improve the team, but within their own limits. So, don’t expect any of those “all in” moves to actually happen.
The point of this post is to stop for a second and imagine what the old AA would have done in the current situation. It’s purely for fun. It’s fun to dream, no?
*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.