Toronto Blue Jays management faces tough decision as trade deadline looms
By: Dylan Perego
The Toronto Blue Jays have a decision to make ahead of the trade deadline on July 31. Are they buyers, or are they sellers?
The way the team has performed recently suggests the latter as the more likely decision, but stranger things have happened.
Take 2015 for example. The Blue Jays sat with a record of 50-51 on July 29 before the acquisitions of starting pitcher David Price and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki fueled the team to a 43-18 record the rest of the season to finish at 93-69.
The Blue Jays currently have a 41-47 record and a similar comeback technically isn’t impossible, but there are glaring differences between this year’s team and the 2015 edition that suggest the same turnaround isn’t in the cards.
First off, the Blue Jays gave up a wealth of attractive assets in order to acquire Price, Tulowitzki and other role players, such as outfielder Ben Revere and relief pitcher Mark Lowe. Those same types of assets, primarily up-and-coming prospects, are not as readily available this time around.
Flexibility in payroll is another aspect management must consider, as taking on any sort of significant increase over future years would make the possibility of re-signing key young players like Aaron Sanchez, Roberto Osuna, Marcus Stroman, and former American League MVP Josh Donaldson extremely difficult.
Price may have departed for the Boston Red Sox in free agency following the Blue Jays elimination from the 2015 playoff, but Tulowitzki is still around, and he has largely underwhelmed since that magical late-season run almost two years ago.
Blue Jays fans may need to face a harsh reality.
Canada’s team may be preparing for a purge, and while it may hurt initially, it may be best for the long term success of the franchise. It is even tougher considering the Blue Jays have come within one playoff series win from the World Series in back-to-back seasons.
Traditional sell offs tend to involve players in the upper echelon of the team’s talent pool that boast attractive qualities like lengthy contracts for team control or a bargain in player salary. Players that fall into that category for the Blue Jays include the likes of Donaldson, Marcus Stroman, Marco Estrada and Justin Smoak, who will start at first base for the American League in tonight’s All-Star game.
The end game would be one of reconstruction, building a team from youth and improving the structure of the minor league system with high-ceiling prospects with serviceable major league players to hold the fort in the meantime.
Rebuilding is always an unattractive option for fans because it is generally followed by an increase in losses. The process, when trusted and completed properly, is a short-term sacrifice for a long-term gain. Just ask the Chicago Cubs, who went from losing 101 games in 2012 to winning 103 games last season and capturing its first World Series championship since 1908.
The burning question for the Blue Jays is one every franchise faces when faced with a floundering team and an aging roster: is it time?
The answer is looking more and more like yes with each passing day.
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