We’re continuing with our “Three Needs” series, in which we take a look at the chief issues to be addressed for clubs that have fallen out of contention. Next up: the Blue Jays, who ran up 95 losses but also installed some highly promising core pieces at the MLB level.
[Toronto Blue Jays Depth Chart]
1. Open The Wallet For Starters
The Shapiro/Atkins regime has rarely lured significant starters with hefty promises, due in part to the organization’s need to transition away from some big preexisting commitments. (That task is now all but complete, with only eighteen million more Troy Tulowitzki dollars left to pay down.) To this point, J.A. Happ (3/$36MM) and Marco Estrada (2/$26MM) are the biggest pitching deals the current front office has done.
It’s time for more. With Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez finally dealt away, there’s a mile-wide opening in the rotation. The Jays may like their long-term outlook for graduating pitching talent, but at present the returning unit would be anchored by Trent Thornton and Jacob Waguespack. The 2019 Jays relied upon Clayton Richard, Edwin Jackson, Clay Buchholz, and a smattering of other pitchers to get through the season.
Bringing back Matt Shoemaker and/or adding another bounceback candidate is well and good, but if this club is going to make strides it’ll need to spend — perhaps significantly — to bring in multiple quality arms. Avoiding overly lengthy and massive entanglements may still be wise, but the club ought to be willing to take some financial risk with a short-term, high-AAV deal (as in the John Lackey-Cubs signing) and/or mid-length, lower-AAV contract (e.g., the Twins’ deal with Phil Hughes) — depending upon what’s achievable on the market.
2. Deal Ken Giles
This runs somewhat counter to the above point, but the Jays aren’t in a position to point the bus down the road and slam the gas. They still need to meander around and make some additional finds before moving on down the road. Spending on some starters will boost the quality of the team significantly in the near-term and enhance the outlook for the next few seasons. Hanging onto Giles for his final season of arbitration eligibility would be a luxury.
The Jays almost certainly would’ve dealt Giles this summer had it not been for an ill-timed injury episode. He bounced back and finished strong, wrapping up the campaign with a 1.87 ERA and 14.1 K/9 vs. 2.9 BB/9 over 53 innings. That’s high-end relief output. With 23 saves also finding their way onto his ledger, Giles is going to command a pretty big raise on his $6.3MM salary, so he’s not cheap. But think about it from a contenders’ perspective: would you rather take a one-time, ~$10MM shot on a 29-year-old with elite stuff or risk as much or more annually over a multi-year term for one of the best-available free agents? There’s value here for Toronto to cash in and it’ll probably make sense to do so this winter.
3. Take Risks In The Relief Corps
Giles’s own year-to-year volatility is emblematic of a broader phenomenon that is by now well-recognized. It helps boost the reasoning behind dealing him. It also provides cause to believe that the Jays can dig up real talent on the relief corps by taking some shots.
This is hardly a new strategy. The Jays have used it themselves of late, inking veterans David Phelps and Daniel Hudson (since spun off via trade) and acquiring castoffs such as Derek Law, Ryan Dull, and Brock Stewart. So … suggesting this isn’t exactly earth-shattering. But it’s not the right approach for every team and every situation. It does seem to fit perfectly for the Jays. If they move Giles, as suggested above, the team will be left without a single relief pitcher who turned in a clearly productive 2019 season.
There’ll be plenty of internal hurlers who will and should get to compete for jobs in camp, but the Jays can legitimately offer free agents an opportunity to step right into prominent late-inning roles. Splashing some cash on short-term relievers isn’t going to hamstring the club in the long run. Waiver claims and minor-league signings offer other routes to bringing in talent. The Jays can fill out their group for the spring, then make late-camp changes as other clubs make their own tough calls. There’s no real need to focus on stability — something the club will be hoping to establish on the position-player side in 2020 — so much as to grab the most, best talent and let it all play out.
Great city, good fans, and rotten owners. The Jays would also benefit from critical coverage from local media sources, the terminally rosy outlook of Sportsnet is, at best, misleading.
nonsense, complete and utter nonsense!
Spoken like a true Jays fan.
He’s right, though. Toronto’s a crappy city lol.
Toronto is frequently ranked as one of the best cities in the world to live in.
The rankings are done by people who don’t live in Toronto. Thanks again for nothing Terry. Brilliant as always.
Fans are good time rock and rollers. They leave the scene when the going gets tough. Don’t blame them when ownership is swooned by men who’ve never experienced winning nor know how to.
Of course sportsnet is always blowing smoke they own the team
… exactly my point.
You can’t generalize sportsnet like that there are at times when guys like Blair and other writers in that site were very critical of the current jays management.
30Parks is dead on in his analysis!
Leafs > Raptors > Jays
There seems to be three kinds of news/blog baseball coverage: conspiracy theory. evidence-based moderation, homerism.
Unfortunately, a small core of dedicated fans consider anything but a conspiracy theory attitude to be…a conspiracy. No media outlet is going to burn a bad team down to the ground every day — it’s a looooong season and eventually it would turn off all but the most deranged. But the volcanic anger of the pseudoskeptic cannot be dissipated with facts and reason.
An evidenced-based approach is based on what has happened, not what will happen. A team makes a move, even a seemingly awful move, but you just have to wait to see how it plays out. That’s frustrating for fans, to see writers not take a stand on what looks like a bad move, but sometimes that is the best position. For instance, I thought acquiring Wilmer “Home Run” Font was STUPID…but Font pitched very well for the Jays. I should have remembered the Pyrrhonian skeptics, who taught that the suspension of judgment results in tranquillity. The Jays lost a lot of games, but they have a good young core. They need a centre fielder and pitching. Will the owners spend the money? We don’t know. We’ll have to see. And I am good with that right now. (Those last few sentence will enrage the conspiracy oriented fans.)
Homerism is what I see on most Jays blogs. I don’t think it is a coincidence that the least critically minded writers rarely use advanced metrics, can’t spell, don’t know the meanings of most of the metaphors they misuse, are unable to structure a sentence in a coherent manner, and pad out their articles with every worn-out sports cliché they can think of. It’s not writing, it’s not analysis, it’s an imitation. But I enjoy putting proofreading notes in the comments section (most of my jobs have been in editing/proofreading). They never take my suggestions, but it keeps me sharp.
You used an awful lot of words to say nothing substantive. Do you blather and bloviate on blogs’ comment sections regularly? Can’t wait for more cutting analysis.
Don’t believe I’d be making big rotation splashes if I were the Jays. Unless they absolutely loved the guy they don’t figure to be very good next season. Particularly if you’re recommending a Giles trade. They could go the Texas route and try to find a Lance Lynn and Mike Minor on an affordable multi year deal. But I wouldn’t be handing out any more than that right now.
Why do they figure to not be very good??? that makes no sense, They had the chance to see the kids (both position and pitchers) this season, Now is the time to add to the big picture and get even better and start the way to the consistant winners road!
That’s a paradoxical statement. You are saying: They won’t be very good next year without good pitchers, so don’t acquire good pitchers. Implicit in your reasoning is that the Jays could be good if they add good pitching and keep Giles.
But you are right that they should target affordable pitchers. They can’t lure an ace if all they have are question marks in the rotation. But if they can sign a couple Wheeler/Macha/Odorizza/Lyles types for 2020, maybe an ace will want to come for 2021.
I agree with the Wheeler and Odorizzi types. I would also push hard to try and trade for Whit Merrifield. This would solve the CF issue and add a great lead off or #2 hitter to your lineup. Hopefully ownership adds pitching this year and next to bolster the young core.
Wheeler is quite separate in terms of talent/productivity than the others mentioned. He’s going to get 100 million dollars I imagine.
“how could there be only three!?”
Sorry Todd, but ya got it wrong! Now is the time to hit the gas, as ya stated Jays need to open the wallet on starting pitchers but they also need to spend on the BP this includes extending Gilies! The 3rd need is in position players and that means a proven, competent centre fielder, and to me re-signing Smoak (He would probably sign for a lesser amount for an opportunity to build his value up)) for 1 more season to platoon with Tellez!
Jeff you forgot Reid-Foley in the 2019 rotation anchors section
yeah that 1.71 WHIP really should make him an anchor.
Walks are still a huge problem. It really isn’t possible to be a productive starter with 6 BB per nine. I think he’s still in the broader bucket of uncertain arms.
Anyone who trades for Giles is a sucker. He’s a stat-padder who cracks super-easily under pressure. Go get him, Yankees!
0/3 on statements of fact.
This is the slash line of batters who face Giles in high-level situations, for his whole career:
.217 AVG/.279 OBP/.339 SLG/.618 OPS
His playoff ERA is terrible, but that is based on a sample size of 7.2 IP, while the slash line above covers 608 plate appearances, the equivalent of a whole season for a batter.
With other teams improving in the division I just hope the owners make the team competitive again. Blue Jays are full of future stars now I hope they are not for sale anytime soon
John Lackey and Phil Hughes? I hear Nolan Ryan isn’t pitching for anyone at the moment either!
Read it again
I can see the reasons for trading Giles but an extension would be nice as well. I feel as though he’s as good as gone. And that sucks because he’ll go down as one of the most under appreciated players in franchise history. Everyone wanted to hate him and the trade ever since it happened and all he did was go on and be one of the top pitcher in baseball (with baseballs best pitch).
The lineup showed they are ready to compete, they just need to get the pitching caught up. Ideally, they’d be after one of Cole or Strasburg, but that seems unrealistic. A wild card is not out of the question next year, but without a major addition, they’d need a major breakout from at least one or two of Thornton, Kay, Borucki, Zeuch, SRF, etc. Again seems unrealistic, at least for top of the rotation expectation this early into their careers. I am very interested to see how this offseason shapes up. There’s a lot of ways they can go with the pitching staff, with a lot of open spots to fill.
They should also have Pearson at some point next year.
Lol the lineup could be league average offensively, but it would still be brutal defensively. And their pitching staff is bottom-5 in the league.
It’s going to take multiple years for meaningful baseball to be played in Toronto unless they invest some serious capital into their pitching staff.
Ya they really need to get an actual CF or hope Alford or Davis produce enough to be big leaguers. I’d say it’s almost impossible to say what the pitching staff will be like yet since there’s probably only a couple spots that you can slot guys in. I wouldn’t be surprised if the only arms who finished the year with the team who start out next year are Tepera, Romano, Thornton/Waguespack (Sp/Rp), maybe Kay, maybe Font. Literally everybody else could be a new face.
> brutal defensively
You might want to look up the definition of “brutal.” There are many online dictionaries if you are not an owner of books or shelves.
The Jays as a team had -9 DRS for the season, #8 in the AL, right in the middle of the pack, between two playoff teams: the Twins (-7 DRS) and the Yankees (-11 DRS).
Don’t take the defensive numbers serious. Randal Grichuk ended with favourable numbers defensively in CF. Unfortunately the numbers did not show his lack of true CF speed and bad route running. He can’t handle CF unless it’s an emergency. Blue Jays defense is a problem and the rankings should be thrown out when you factor Bichette replacing Galvis, among others.
They were a bottom 5 defensive unit according to UZR, which for all intents and purposes qualifies as ‘brutal’. Next.
I’ll add that if they aren’t going to make the splash to compete this year, they may as well call up Cashman or Theo and see if they’ll attach prospects to Happ or Chatwood and other guys like that to buy assets. They’re slight bounce back candidates who at worst eat innings and bring in prospects.
Chatwood + Ian Happ for Ken Giles has been something I’ve wanted for 12 months haha
Lackey and Hughes? Did you copy and paste an old article and forget to change the names? Tisk tisk.
Read it again. Names were used as examples, not saying to get those specific guys. Tisk tisk.
Not sure how that would have even been possible.
Their most recent free agent contracts are models of the types of signings I was referring to.
Where is jimmer? How come he haven’t chimed in with his #scouteyes yet?
Jimmertee is in a sensory deprivation tank filled with liquid psilocybin. He is freeing up his third “scouts” eye to determine retroactively which events from the 2019 season he predicted. If we’re lucky, he will “see” some 2018 predictions too.
I’ll be adding comments shortly. Thanks for the shoutout.
‘…the club ought to be willing to take some financial risk with a short-term, high-AAV deal (e.g., John Lackey) and/or mid-length, lower-AAV contract (e.g., Phil Hughes) — depending upon what’s achievable on the market.’
Yo what are y’all talking about lol
Is this from 2016?
They were giving examples of each that happened, not saying they should go after Lackey or Hughes
Guess I needed to spell it all out … I was trying to make quick reference and didn’t want to put in lengthy parentheticals.
Well Jeff. Are there no examples more recent than Hughes or Lackey lol It’s plainly obvious that the industry has evolved in how they treat free agents over the past few years, seems weird to use contracts when Dave Stewart was a GM.
“The 2019 Jays relied upon Clayton Richard, Edwin Jackson, Clay Buchholz, and a smattering of other pitchers to get through the season.”
Is this a joke?
It’d be great if someone at MLBTR actually followed the Jays enough to give a valid opinion. How many innings did these scrubs pitch for Toronto this year? Come on.
Really not sure what you think I was trying to say here?
I didn’t say they only relied upon those pitchers, did I? I referenced all of the other starters they relied upon most heavily at other points in the post — Stroman, Sanchez, Thornton, Waguespack — and then noted that they had this collection of others that they needed to get through the season.
They got 32 starts from Richard, EJax, Buch, and Shoemaker … and actually paid a decent bit for what amounted to one pretty poor starter. Then, there were other dudes that got a start or bulk outing here and there.
So … yes, they did exactly what I said. They needed those 3 veterans and a smattering of others to get the innings required to finish the season.
They did not rely on those three guys. Fact. They relied on Stro and Sanchez which you brushed over and then after that Font and SG more than anyone you listed.
Down with OBP
I read the original blurb the same way tbh. I had to look up how many games they started. Jackson started 5? The point made from your reply seems worded better?
Let’s not be beating up Jeff.
The Jays need a lot. First the position players.
Center fielder; I hear Kevin Pillar can play center and hit a bit. Lol. Do the Jays give Alford and/or Davis one more shot? Yes.
Gurrirel jr in left, grichuk in right. Cut Fisher. Trade McKinney for a prospect. Hernandez 4th outfielder.
Tellez can be elite but he is Still learning. He can alternate with Vlad jr at first and Dh.
Vladjr is at first base. He needs to stop gorging on his grandma’s food who cooks for him and hit the Gym. This is going to be difficult for him, natural talent has always got him through.
Biggio at 2nd
Buchette at SS until he can’t. 162 games will take it’s toll on him and his Hitting will slide as pitchers correct. He hasn’t seen one of his historical 40 game slumps yet.
Sign Donaldson st 3rd. The Jays need elite veterans that can lead by example.
Urena backup. Trade Drury for whatever
Catching is Jansen and McGuire. Cut Maile.
Actually agree with most of what you say here. I’d look for a RF (Puig for 3 years?) and move Grichuk to CF. His bat is fine there.
No to Donaldson. That ship has sailed. I’d prefer Smoak and keeping Vlad at third for another year or two… but eventually he’s a 1B. Hopefully Groshans develops properly and takes over in a couple years.
You are aware that he’s actually lost weight since the Jays have spoken to his grandmother and moved her to Toronto. Vlad was said to have lose 12 lbs during spring training and maintained his weight throughout the season. The Jays are working with Vlad Jr in the hopes that he will continue to shed weight this off-seaon (15 to 20 lbs). “The boss,” said Blue Jays Manager Charlie Montoyo, who is from Puerto Rico and made sure to meet with her on a trip to the Dominican Republic after he was hired.
During spring training, Alvino said, Guerrero lost 12 pounds after she fed him mostly smoothies, multigrain toast and grilled meats, fish and vegetables.
Unfortunately his spring training diet regimen didn’t stick. His grandma was serving him the rice and big feeds during the year.
My info says Spring training he was 280lbs. He eventually lost 15 lbs down to 265 lbs and ended the season at 270lbs. The Jays want him at 235lbs.
HE needs to become a Gym rat. He has never done that. He has relied on his natural abilities without training. It will be the difference between stardom and superstardom for this guy if he can get his head around the the fitness thing.
Blue Jays Pitching: What a current mess. They have a stable full of #4’s.
Both Seid-Reid foley and Borucki can be a #2 if they figure it out. But until then…The rest are #4’s except Zeuch, he can be a #3 in a few years.
Immediate needs are and #1 and # 2 not more #3’s and #4’s. Sign any of the top 5 starters except wheeler. Ryu, Cole, Strasburg if he opts out, Qunitana. Rogers has unlimited funds, let’s open the wallet. Beeston could get it done. Fill in the rotation with the best of the kids.
Let go of Stewart, Dull, Pannone. Sign Giles to whatever he wants. [The Shapiro/Atkins regime can’t trade well.] Fill in the relief roles with leftover starters and the best available from last years relief.
Make Adjustments at the 2020 trade deadline to upgrade any position not performing and then go for it.
Correction: Blue Jays have #5s. Borucki isn’t healthy and Thornton wouldn’t start on a good team. He wouldn’t have started in 2016. Would’ve been a spot starter (maybe) in 2015. Tough to see him improving enough to be a #3. Point is, he’s the only guy with a spot next year and that’s only good for Thornton.
Kind of agree here too. Too early to write everyone off as #4s though. Inevitably most will be that or less… but odds are a couple guys outperform too. Which ones we don’t know.
I don’t think they should open it up for Cole. Those long high av pitcher deals rarely work out.
Keuchel for 3 years, Hamels on a high salary one year deal with an option and bringing back Shoemaker would go a long way to making them competitive. Plus why not take a shot at Betances. Likely can get him cheaper after last years injury trouble.
Keuchel, Hamels, Shoemaker, Borucki, Thornton in the rotation. With Kay, Zeuch and Waguespack for depth, Giles and Betances anchoring the bullpen. That’s not a bad start to a pitching staff… especially if you’re expecting a step forward on offence.
What motivation does Cole Hamels or Keuchel have for playing with the Jays? Lol they’re awful, there are three teams trying to win a championship in their own division.. they’ll get paid by any number of teams. They’ve won ships and they wanna win some more, doesn’t make any sense.
Zack Wheeler is the guy I’d be going after. Already 1 TJ deep, he’s a guy I’d love to throw a ton of money at and I think he’d be attracted to the financial security.
My Jays wish list for 2020.
Dallas Keuchel 3/$40M
Yasiel Puig 3/$35M
Dellin Betances 3/$24M
Cole Hamels 1/$14M
Justin Smoak 2/$12M
Matt Shoemaker 1/$4M
A bunch of relief arms on minors deals. Jays will have a lot of spots open in a bullpen with a semi-competitive team. Should be an appealing place for relief arms looking to make an impression.
This leaves two rotation spots for the Jays existing young starters. Also means Grichuk moves to CF where his bat plays better. Smoak is insurance against Tellez sucking. Betances and Giles would be strong bullpen anchors.
Yah. Only two disagreements. Grichuk can’t play center, his routes are awful and Smoak is done unless he goes back to his “Psychologist”.
Keuchel might be only good for a year or two.
The insurance against Tellez sucking is to sign Donaldson. Not Smoak.
Your suggestions still does not put the team over the top. If the Jays are willing to spend, go heavy or don’t spend at all. Take 2020 to allow the younger guys to settle in. Maybe Tellez improves, maybe we find out Bichette can’t handle SS and must move to 2B, maybe Vlad has to move to RF or 1B….that is what 2020 is all about. The issue, however, is this free agent crop is deeper than next year’s.
Donaldson bridge was burnt down last year. He’s not coming back. And he’s not playing 1st..
Nobody said Donaldson would play 1B. You did.
Makes even less sense to punt on Vladdy playing 3B at 21 years old. None of it makes sense. Donaldson is not an option. He’s probably less likely to re sign in Toronto than Aaron Sanchez or Marcus Stroman.
Who said Vlad was being punted from 3B?
Enough with donaldson. Zero chance he wants anything to do with this ownership/mgmt group. Did you entirely miss what happened upon his trade?? His words were not minced. Move on.
JaysForDays – again, my response was over the “insurance”. Instead of actually understanding the rationale, you come up with a trade that PROVES management should have been fired a long time ago.
If Justin Smoak is your insurance policy, and not assuming you think that is the case, move on.