The 2015 trade deadline for the Toronto Blue Jays is something we may never witness again.
Somehow, pieces magically fell into place that week. Deals which were in the works for weeks finally materialized, teams which dropped out of contention suddenly made players available, and it all allowed the Blue Jays to make the biggest splashes of any team in Major League Baseball.
The 2015 trade deadline is going to be a tough one to follow. With a brand new club President and General Manager at the helm of the Blue Jays, the tone is much different in the front office than it was one year ago.
However, the mandate is still the same; win. The question is whether the Blue Jays are willing to same similar sacrifices as they did last year to bolster the roster ahead of the trade deadline.
Record-wise, the Blue Jays are in a much better position now than they were one year ago. While there are still weaknesses on this roster, the weaknesses on the 2016 Blue Jays are much easier to fix and would hopefully cost less in the way of prospect capital.
The million dollar question, though – do Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins have the gusto to follow through with it? Will they load up at the trade deadline in anticipation of another run deep into the postseason? Man, I really hope so.
It’s easy to sell this Blue Jays roster as “good enough” right now; even without Jose Bautista in the lineup and practically no offensive production at first base, they’re still hitting at a torrid pace.
Even if Aaron Sanchez eventually has to move to the bullpen, the Blue Jays still have one of the strongest starting rotations in the American League.
And considering how bad and unlucky the Jays’ bullpen was in the first half, there’s no possible way it could be worse in the second half. At least one of Brett Cecil, Jesse Chavez or Drew Storen will return to their career norms.
That’s all well and good, but we’ve seen this movie before; the prime example being the 2014 trade deadline. Remember how that team was in clear need of help? And instead of upgrading at key positions, the Blue Jays stood pat and did nothing. Shortly thereafter, they unsurprisingly fell out of contention for good.
“It’s not money” and “they aren’t my prospects”, but I think the front office absolutely has to address the team’s needs via trade. Even if it isn’t an immediate need like offense, an acquisition of someone like Jay Bruce to boost the lineup that much further would be heralded as a win.
The other problem is there isn’t that one particular saviour out there this trade deadline. There isn’t a Troy Tulowitzki on the market and there isn’t a David Price to be had. A Rich Hill or Drew Pomeranz is about as close as one can get … but it’s still better than nothing.
Even if it means packaging together some top prospects, the Blue Jays have to do it. As many fans will surely attest to it, it’s a case where I’d rather see them swing and miss than not swing at all.
There’s been a notable philosophy change in the front office since past year, which could be a hindrance to making any big trades requesting the Blue Jays’ top prospects. Mark Shapiro’s M.O. has been about stockpiling prospects and signing players to team-friendly deals.
As far as I’m concerned, 2016 was constructed as a win-now year anyway. The deals which were signed this past offseason and the trades that were made were designed in large part to get the Blue Jays back to the playoffs this year … so why only go 80% of the way when there’s still some work to do?
I’m not saying Shapiro and Atkins should trade 12 pitching prospects to get the two or three best available players on the market. There’s no sense in jeopardizing the future of this franchise by giving away some of the club’s most promising young players.
But there’s clearly a lot on the line this year, and I would hate for the front office to sit idly as this golden opportunity passes them by. As their competitors within the division and around the league load up for the second half of the season, it’s better for the Jays to be proactive than reactive.
Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins aren’t “obligated” to make a move just for the sake of making a trade at the trade deadline. But given the position the Blue Jays are in right now and the moves they made this offseason, the Blue Jays are obligated to the vision of this team … which is to finish what they started last October.