For fans of the Blue Jays, the offseason can be a time for dreaming, but this one is different. There is a sense of some dreams being possible.
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The Toronto Blue Jays are in the middle of a lot of offseason rumours thanks to winning 91 games in 2021 and missing the playoffs, thanks to a young lineup that is overflowing with talent and thanks to having the financial and prospect flexibility to pull off just about any move they see fit. It’s an odd time to be a Blue Jays fan and if you let it, the offseason can drive you bonkers. In previous years, it was easy to dismiss crazy big splashy moves as unrealistic pipe dreams. This offseason is different. Even the craziest ideas can’t be dismissed out of hand.
In previous offseasons, big names have been available and the Blue Jays may have checked in on them to gauge the market, but they had no intention of actually spending. In fact, back in 2019’s offseason, Shi Davidi described Toronto’s front office as ‘window shoppers’ of sorts, checking in on just about every name you could think of, with no intention of actually pulling the trigger on deals. Shi shared a comment from an agent at the time: “One frustrated agent lamented how the Blue Jays “are 90 per cent due diligence that doesn’t go anywhere.” Of course, this was their way of understanding the market, but it didn’t result in anything but frustration for a fan base that simply wanted their favourite team to not be terrible.
Of course, we know that that ‘market research’ is an important process of this front office’s methodology and any fears of them shooting themselves in the foot have been put at ease. In fact, it was the following offseason that things started to change. The signing of Hyun Jin Ryu kicked it all off. It was the first major purchase Toronto’s front office splurged on. I suppose you could count Kendrys Morales, but I prefer to gloss over that move. It was an attempt at replacing Edwin Encarnacion and it didn’t work out. But, the signing of Ryu signified the Toronto Blue Jays were able and willing to spend money to bring in top talent.
The offseaosn after, when rumours of George Springer swirled, fans couldn’t be blamed for thinking that it would be amazing for Toronto to land the top free agent talent, but would or could it really happen? Skepticism certainly halted a lot of excitement…until it actually happened. Two offseasons in a row, the Blue Jays spent big on top end talent, silencing the ‘Rogers is cheap’ crowd and the ‘this front office will never…’ crowd. But, there was still doubt in the eyes of some.
You see, if a team is really going to play with the upper end teams, they would have to be willing to not only spend money, but dip into their prospect capital. This was a sticking point for many who believed that Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins coveted their prospects too tightly. Perhaps, this came form their time in Cleveland, perhaps it came from the rumour that they lectured Alex Anthopoulos on his 2015 mid season splurge, which emptied the proverbial cupboards. Regardless of its genesis, the belief remained: the Blue Jays will never pull off a big trade to bring in top talent. Well, last summer, they proved that to be incorrect by trading for Jose Berrios, which only cost the 16th and 68th best prospects in all of baseball, Toronto’s 2nd and 4th best. It was a huge price to pay and Toronto paid it. They then extended Berrios to an excellent contract, proving they would spend both money and prospects in the right situation.
Now, here we are in the 2021/22 offseason, one marred by MLB locking out the MLBPA after failed (to date) CBA negotiations, which puts a pause on major league transactions. But, that doesn’t stop the rumours flying. The latest big one that involves Toronto is that free agent Freddie Freeman has approached (go to around the 7 minute mark of the link) the Blue Jays about a contract.
This is just about the craziest rumour I can recall. Firstly, the Blue Jays have a rather good first baseman in Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Freeman being a first baseman makes things complicated. Sure, the Blue Jays could try Vlad at third again, hoping that his improved fitness would help and the offensive production this move would provide could be worth any hiccups Vlad might have at the hot corner. Shi Davidi has discussed why this idea doesn’t make a lot of sense and he may be correct. It is very difficult to see a fit between Toronto and Freeman.
However, regardless of whether we think it makes sense as a rumour, the real fun part of this offseason is that there is even a small percentage that tells us that MAYBE these rumours could happen. The situation in which the Blue Jays find themselves means nothing can really be off the table. They signed Kevin Gausman after trying to sign Robbie Ray. Gaausman was one of the top pitchers on the market after Max Scherzer. They have money and prospects to make any deal happen.
So, the Freeman idea may sound crazy, but on some level it is one that we can allow our dreams to run with. Think about other rumours or possibilities out there. Think Jose Ramirez. Think Matt Chapman. Think Craig Kimbrel. Think Kenley Jansen. Whether any of these actually happen or not, the fact remains that these are strange, exciting times we are currently living in.
Where once these thoughts would have been laughed out of a Twitter feed, they don’t seem so crazy now. Where once these thoughts would have been dismissed as pipe dreams, we can’t really dismiss them now. The chances of Freddie Freeman signing with the Blue Jays are not high. The chances of them trading for a Ramirez or a Chapman are not high. But, the fact that there is a chance at all means we are able to dream crazier than we once could. Any chance at all is better than what we had a few years ago.
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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.