On Blue Jays & Going All In – Jays From the Couch

The Toronto Blue Jays are in a rare position and they had better be prepared to take advantage of it this offseason


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The Toronto Blue Jays won 91 games last season and are in a unique position. Club President, Mark Shapiro, stated that they will get better this offseason after missing the postseason by a single game and finishing 4th in the AL East despite reaching 91 wins. It’s a very interesting statement considering all the pieces they could be losing in the coming weeks or months, but if the team is going to live up to those words, they need to go ‘all in’.

Before continuing, we will acknowledge that the CBA negotiations are casting a shadow over things this winter and it doesn’t look like the sun will come out all that easily. The direction of these negotiations could play a role in determining how any club, including the Blue Jays, proceed.

We should also acknowledge the definition of going “all in”. It is likely to mean different things to different people, as most things do. For some, it means the Blue Jays trading away all the prospect talent they’ve accumulated and spending every last dollar in free agency, potentially leaving a rather bleak situation down the road, a situation that would require a tear down and rebuild. For those people, that means the club is trading away any hope of competing in the future for a chance to win right now, which may not sit well.

However, there is also a different definition, the one from which I will be working. Going “all in” doesn’t mean risking the entire future on one hand (2022). Instead, it means to swing for the fences and shop in the right places.

I want Toronto to go all in. They have one of the best core group of players of any team in baseball and will have nice complimentary pieces as well. For example, the starting rotation, while losing Robbie Ray and Steven Matz will still boast Jose Berrios, Alek Manoah and Hyun Jin Ryu. There are also guys like Thomas Hatch, Ross Stripling and others who can be considered depth. The bullpen is the same. Sure, they need upgrades, but the pieces in place are rather good. This team is a competitive one and it needs some final pieces to put them over the top. This context is different than a few years ago. Rebuilding is done, it’s time to go big.

On the most recent episode of the JFtC Podcast, I mentioned having two pockets: the right is full of cash and the left is full of prospects. In my version of going ‘all in’, the Blue Jays are not afraid to reach into either pocket…or both.

On the cash side of things, Toronto has only George Springer on the books beyond 2023. That’s a lot of spending money available. Sure, some of that has to be saved for the likes of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. whose arbitration years are going to get more and more expensive. The same is true of Bo Bichette and others. However, that should not stop the front office from shopping in the higher end store (Chez Boras, if you will) for their additions. They can afford to give a Max Scherzer $30M+ over three years if they choose to. It will not cripple them. They can afford a top free agent (or two) and still have money to spend elsewhere, or saved for a mid season acquisition. If Shapiro and Ross Atkins cannot convince ownership to spend big when the team is this close, I guess I was wrong and they are not the right people for the jobs they have. It should be noted that everything from the pair indicates they will have ownership’s support.

Whenever we talk about big contracts, we talk about the back end of them as if they are a guaranteed storm of injury and ineptitude. History has certainly given us reason to do so. How many of those monster contracts look attractive at the end of them? Very few. However, when you sign these deals, you’re not paying for the back end. You’re paying what you need to pay to get Player X to sign now. That’s why these contracts are signed by teams who are in a position to compete, which Toronto is, and not basement dwellers.

On the trade front, the Blue Jays have spent a great deal of time and energy building the farm system back up. Once Vlad, Bo and Cavan Biggio all advanced to the big leagues, there were other names that stepped up and grabbed our attention. Austin Martin (draft) and Simeon Woods-Richardson (trade) are two examples of that. But, this past summer we saw the Blue Jays depart from the collecting and hoarding mentality and move toward spending to improve the team. They should not stop now. What would be the point of last July, then?

The trade that brought Jose Berrios to Toronto was one of the bigger departures from their MO we’ve seen from this front office. They gave up two rather significant prospects for a year and a bit of Berrios. They wouldn’t have made moves like this previously. But, the context of this team has changed and the front office recognizes the position they’re in and what it costs to take advantage of that situation. They know that not every prospect in your system is there to play a role in your system. Their role may be to bring other talent in.

Even after dealing Martin and SWR, the Blue Jays still have a nice group of talent from which to draw, as outlined by our Bob Ritchie HERE. With guys like Gabriel Moreno, Orelvis Martinez, Jordan Groshans, Adam Kloffenstein and others we may not have heard much about like Ricky Tiedemann, there is enough depth to pull off a big trade, if the situation is there. Sure, the system would take a further hit by dealing 2 or 3 of these names, but is having a top system really preferred to hanging banners? I suppose that is a personal question and would have multiple answers.

However, if you’re afraid of dealing too much prospect depth, you might need to remind yourself what the point of baseball is: to win the World Series. We’ve almost been brainwashed into thinking that a team is successful if they have all the prospect talent. Making cheap signings to protect the system, hoarding prospects, etc don’t put winning teams on the field. There is no trophy for having the best system. Heck, different outlets can’t even agree on organizational rankings. How many bar room brags include a team’s prospect rankings compared to winning championships?

Even if you’re worried about losing some of these names, you might find solace in the fact that Shapiro and Atkins rebuilt the farm in a rather short time. So, if they deal prospects, by the time the Blue Jays have won a championship (or two), the farm would be able to rebound. Sounds like the ‘waves of talent’ idea Shapiro brought with him when he came to Toronto. I will also remind you about how many ‘can’t miss prospects’ actually live up to the hype. Remember Kyle Drabek? Prospects are known to break your heart. Championships are known to fill them.

Obviously, it is clear what I’m getting at here. The Toronto Blue Jays are in a position to do some serious damage this offseason and in 2022. They are one of the more exciting teams in baseball on the field. The front office now needs to be the same off the field. I am not suggesting trading every single prospect or running a payroll that surpasses the Dodgers. That would certainly be fun and I probably wouldn’t even be upset if they did.

But, what I’m really talking about is aiming high, swinging for the fences, going big or any other cliche out there. They need to be looking to pull of at least one big trade (Luis Castillo from Cincinnati perhaps) and sign one or two big free agents. There is no guarantee they will be able to accomplish that, but if they are going to get better this winter, they need to have the ‘all in’ mentality. Counting pennies and hoarding prospects is so 2017-2019 Blue Jays. We’re past that.

*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.

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