In many ways, the clock is ticking for the Toronto Blue Jays; not only on Friday’s non-waiver trade deadline, but time is also running out for the Blue Jays to make up ground and secure a playoff spot.
What transpires on and off the field for them this week could have a big impact on whether the Blue Jays will be playing October baseball.
However, the team’s mediocre play as of late combined with a lack of trades by the front office have left many questioning whether the Blue Jays will make a deal at all.
For months now, the needs for the Blue Jays have been vividly apparent: starting pitching and bullpen help. They’ve managed to finagle a few in-house solutions, but they’re still short of being a playoff-calibre team.
Because of the magnitude of deals signed and trades made this past offseason, this has probably been the most anticipated trade deadline for the Blue Jays in a very long time.
But do they have an obligation to make a move at the trade deadline?
Last year, there was a great deal of disappointment after they stood pat on July 31st. But in retrospect, the 2014 Blue Jays were team that had a lot of flaws that couldn’t be plugged by merely one or two acquisitions at the deadline.
Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie were all hurt; there were several key position players missing from the roster. Whereas with this team, the starting lineup is relatively healthy, it’s just that they only have a few holes to plug in the rotation and the bullpen.
It would seem to be a fairly easy fix. If the Blue Jays wanted to get Johnny Cueto, they could’ve. If they wanted to get Jonathan Papelbon, they would’ve. Clearly, Alex Anthopoulos has a price in his mind for what those players are worth, and he decided to walk away.
In a way, I respect that logic because we witnessed what happened with the Oakland A’s last year. We saw how they came out early and cleared the cupboard for Jon Lester, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.
They bolstered their rotation, but they barely squeaked into the playoffs and ultimately the Wild Card game. All for what? Now look at where the Oakland A’s are this year. Who’s to say if the Blue Jays did the same thing, it wouldn’t happen to them as well?
As great as it would be to experience a playoff game, it would hurt a lot to see the organization take one or two steps backward the following year because they’ve given up so much talent. The only difference here is that Oakland A’s dealt a lot of players off their big league roster and the Blue Jays would mostly be dealing in the way of prospects.
But this is going to be a crucial week for the Blue Jays. And the more I think about it, they still have a chance to get to the playoffs, but they’re running out of time.
They’re sitting at .500 and three games back of the Twins for the second Wild Card. The Blue Jays are within striking distance, but the problem is they are failing to gain any traction in the standings.
They win one game, then they lose one game, they lose two games, then they lose two games. At this rate, the Blue Jays are not going to get into the playoffs.
If the regular season went until November or December, I think the Blue Jays may have a better shot. Their incredible offensive output appears to be sustainable over the course of an entire season. But they just squandered so many chances in the first half that they’re trying to play catchup.
Ideally, the Blue Jays should’ve been around 10 games above .500 going into the All-Star break so that if there was some sort of second half attrition, there wouldn’t be nearly as much ground to make up. Despite rattling off an 11-game win streak earlier this season, they’re only at .500.
Maybe it’s the cumulative disappointment of 22 years without a playoff appearance which has made many overly cynical towards this organization. The Blue Jays’ lack of moves at the deadline last year certainly didn’t help the cause.
I’m hoping the Blue Jays will make a big splash at the trade deadline, but considering what’s happened in previous years, I really don’t foresee it happening.
It’s not for a lack of trying, though; I believe Alex Anthopoulos has worked tirelessly and attempted numerous times to get these players, and he’s either not getting support from ownership, or the asking prices are just so astronomical that he’s walking away.
Anthopoulos has gone on the record that he doesn’t enjoy the calamity of the July 31st trade deadline. So if the Blue Jays don’t make a trade within the next few days, the probability of a big transaction transpiring seems less and less likely.
As exciting as it would be to see the Blue Jays land someone like David Price at the 11th hour, historically, Alex Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays have tended to avoid those last minute trades. When AA makes trades, it’s typically days if not weeks ahead of the non-waiver trade deadline.
If the Blue Jays didn’t make a move at the trade deadline last year when they occupied a Wild Card spot, what leads us to believe they’ll make a move when they’re three games back of a Wild Card spot now?
Here’s another thing that leads me to believe the Jays will stand pat this week; often times, the most active teams on the trade market are the ones that are sitting quite comfortably in a playoff spot. They’re simply looking to fortify their roster for the home stretch to the postseason.
Very rarely do you see a team like the Blue Jays (who are outside the perimeter of the playoff picture) not only remain active at the deadline, but then successfully use those moves to vault them into the postseason.
Now with the advent of the second Wild Card, it’s more difficult than ever for a team to justify selling the farm for a player that might not even put them over the top and help secure a playoff spot.
Teams like the Blue Jays now have to leapfrog several others to get into the playoffs, and that’s only for the privilege to play the sudden death Wild Card game. At this point, I’d take a Wild Card game, but I don’t know if it would be worth parting for Marcus Stroman.
After watching teams like the Kansas City Royals go after Johnny Cueto, there’s a propensity to think the Blue Jays failed to make a push for a guy like that. In all truthfulness, maybe the Blue Jays didn’t have a shot at Cueto from the beginning.
But as the Blue Jays continue to flounder around the .500 mark and the trade deadline looms, there’s this overriding sense of cynicism that’s starting to creep in. Last year’s inactivity also made a lot of people very skeptical whether the Blue Jays will do a deal.
Alex Anthopoulos shouldn’t feel obligated to make a trade just for the sense of making a trade, but many people will not be satisfied unless the Blue Jays bring in a starting pitcher (or two), or at the very least, a reliever.
Not just the loyal fans of the Toronto Blue Jays, but some of the players within the clubhouse, as well.
Am I hoping the Blue Jays will make a trade this week? Absolutely. Should they make a trade this week? No question. But will the Blue Jays actually do a deal before the July 31st deadline? I wouldn’t hold your breath.