Fixing the Toronto Blue Jays: 2 different paths to fixing the Blue Jays
The 2017 Blue Jays are a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. They entered the season with playoff aspirations yet fell on their face out of the gate and never recovered. A team truly caught in the middle with seemingly no end in sight. They are a dysfunctional mix of aging, expensive veterans (Tulowitzki, Martin, Bautista) and young potential stars (Stroman, Sanchez, Osuna). They have no MLB ready prospects but have two blue chip prospects in Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. with an ETA of 2020. Which leaves them in the predicament of trying to win now, or giving up on the current regime and wait for the young guns to develop.
This is where I come in. A lifelong Blue Jays fan with zero experience working in MLB head offices and a very minimal grasp of analytics, budgets, or really anything baseball related. What I do have is many championships rings from MVP Baseball 2005 to MLB “The Show 17”. I also am in first place in one of my fantasy leagues this year. Invaluable.
I will try to keep this as realistic as possible. Again, I am not an MLB general manager so I can not offer nor complete any of these deals nor do I know what is realistic or not.
Scorched Earth: Goodbye, my loves.
There are many ways the Blue Jays can be fixed, and this seems unlikely. Leading the league in attendance, and owners enjoying the money that comes with that, this is probably not going to happen. This is the path that their neighbors a few blocks away the Toronto Maple Leafs took after years of fighting it. The difference being the Leafs have a diehard fanbase that would support a team of Co-ed Intramural Durham College players, which is essentially what the Leafs put on the ice over the past few years. Blue Jays fans are a notoriously fickle group, many of them attending the Rogers Centre for selfies with the CN Tower in the background sporting there Munenori Kawasaki Shirley and “I Love BJ” sign. Blue Jays management needs to keep this in mind when planning the future of the team. This path would include trading many if not all of the household names Blue Jays fans hold near and dear to their hearts and drastically reducing attendance and potentially lose a lot of the fans they recently gained. Below are the options for scorching the earth.
Josh Donaldson traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for SP Alex Reyes, OF Randal Grichuk, 3B Jedd Gyorko, and SS Delvin Perez.
This is a large haul for the former AL MVP and Bringer of Rain Josh Donaldson. But this is the price that will need to be paid to acquire his talents. Alex Reyes is a future stud, he is currently rehabbing from Tommy John surgery this spring, but will more than likely come back stronger, returning to his 2016 form (1.57 ERA with 52 Ks over 46 innings pitched). Delvin Perez is the Cardinals #3 prospect in their system which is still young and isn’t projected to crack the bigs until 2020 which is about the time the two blue chips(Bichette and Guerrero Jr.) already in the Jays system should be arriving north. The Blue Jays will also receive two serviceable MLB players in Grichuk and Gyorko to help fill out the MLB roster during the rebuild.
JA Happ traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for LHP Anthony Banda and Alex Young.
Two young lefties that project to become nice rotation pieces in years to come. Banda is cracking the MLB midseason top 100 prospects at #68 and Young the 18th ranked prospect in the D-Backs system. Happ would provide an upgrade to one of Zach Godley, Shelby Miller, or Patrick Corbin. I understand this is a lofty price for Happ but the price tag of left handers that have proven they can get it done is often higher than teams would like to pay.
Roberto Osuna traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for RHP Walker Buehler, OF Alex Verdugo and RHP Yadier Alvarez.
This one will hurt the most. Osuna is incredible. Despite his recent struggles since the All Star Break he has been otherwise unhittable. Osuna is young, controllable, incredibly skilled and a fan favorite which would make this a tough move for Shapiro/Atkins to make. This move would legitimize the Dodgers back end and give them the most deadly 1-2 punch in baseball with Osuna and Kenley Jansen. The Dodgers would be trading away their top 3 prospects in return for Osuna but after recent playoff struggles a shutdown bullpen would increase their chances of playing deep in October.
Get what you can for Martin, Tulowitzki, Morales
These players are what you would call untradeable. Declining skills with exorbitant amounts of money remaining on contracts. Would likely need to eat some of the contracts to move these players for low-level prospects.
These moves would appease Atkins and Shapiro while they look to improve the farm system. This would give the Blue Jays arguably the deepest farm system in the majors, but would drastically affect the major league product.
This would be a very motley looking crew of.
C – Luke Maile
1B – Justin Smoak
2B – Darwin Barney
3B- Jedd Gyorko
SS- Ryan Goins
LF- Steve Pearce
CF – Kevin Pillar
RF – Randal Grichuk
DH – My friend Jeff that is one of the better players on our Sunday Night team.
Rotation – Stroman, Sanchez, Biagini, Jo-Jo Reyes, Gustavo Chacin
Fix as you go; $$$.
This plan seems like the most likely course of action, not necessarily how it is going to happen but this is how one Blue Jays fan would like to see things done. With Bautista and Liriano’s money coming off the books and hopefully a cash infusion from Rogers the Jays have the ability to become buyers this offseason and return to the success they’ve enjoyed over the past few years. With these moves, they need current players such as Tulowitzki, Donaldson, Sanchez, and Estrada to return to form as the studs they can be.
Blue Jays trade OF Kevin Pillar, 2B Devon Travis, and OF Anthony Alford to the Miami Marlins for OF Christian Yelich and 2B Dee Gordon.
This offseason the Blue Jays brass vowed to make the team younger, more athletic and more left-handed. Yelich and Gordon check all three of those boxes. The Marlins have a history of throwing money at players then shipping those players out when the team continues sucking. This is what I’m hoping will happen here. Yelich and Gordon both signed 50 million dollar contract in the past two years and with things not working in Dade County, Jeffrey Loria and Co. could be persuaded to move these two players to get the money off the books. Pillar and Travis are both big question marks with solid upside. Pillar is gold glove caliber center fielder who shows flashes of greatness at the plate and Travis when on the field shows legit power, average and on base capabilities for his position. Anthony Alford is a top prospect in the Jays organization that can be tossed in too sweeten the pot.
Blue Jays sign Free Agent OF Lorenzo Cain.
Lorenzo Cain is a former MVP candidate currently of the Kansas City Royals. He is a legit five tool player that would be a significant upgrade over Kevin Pillar. Cain would likely be looking for a four year – $80MM deal. Hopefully, management can get the green light from ownership to increase the budget to make this happen.
Blue Jays sign OF Melky Cabrera.
Reunited and it feels so good: I’ll admit that during Cabrera’s first go round with the Jays; I strongly disliked him. Little did I know that he had a benign tumor growing on his spine. That would likely make any human not perform at their best. Tumor-free Melky is an above average MLB outfielder that would help in left field and relegate Steve Pearce to where he belongs, living in a van down by the river (or the bench). Ideally, sign Melky to a two year – $18 MM deal.
Blue Jays Sign SP Alex Cobb
Cobb has top of the rotation material and shows this in flashes and has proved he can pitch in the AL East. He’s having a strong 2017 campaign posting a 3.80 ERA over 147 innings thus far. It looks like his injury woes are behind him, and he would be a solid middle of the rotation piece behind Stroman and Sanchez. He will be 30 this fall and could be signed to a modest contract.
Blue Jays re-sign SP Marco Estrada
This signing all depends on what the Blue Jays see in Estrada and if he can bounce back from his 2017 struggles. Estrada has defied analytics year after year, and most likely luck has just caught up with him. Hopefully, this isn’t true, and he has another year left in the tank and can be a solid rotational piece for the 2018 season.
These moves would give the Blue Jays a legit roster that would look like this.
C- Russell Martin
1B- Justin Smoak
2B – Dee Gordon
3B – Josh Donaldson
SS- Troy Tulowitzki
LF – Melky Cabrera
CF – Lorenzo Cain
RF – Christian Yelich
DH – Kendrys Morales
Rotation – Stroman, Sanchez, Happ, Cobb, Estrada.
The Blue Jays need to make a change. I’m not sure what it will be but am excited to see where they end up. With the bright spots coming down the pipeline I hope they can remain competitive until Bichette and Vlad Jr. are ready.
If not, hopefully, they bring back Toonie Tuesday when the team becomes unwatchable again.
Shane Gordon Esquire