The Blue Jays’ recent skid — they’re 2-8 in their past 10 games and now sit at 23-27 on the season — could force the team’s front office to make some tough decisions in the coming months, writes Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription link). While there’s certainly still time to turn things around, the Jays look to be a Wild Card contender at best and a clear seller at worst. While impending free agents like J.A. Happ, Josh Donaldson, Curtis Granderson, Marco Estrada, Tyler Clippard, John Axford and Aaron Loup all stand out as plausible trade chips in the event that the team decides to sell off pieces, Rosenthal notes that the club could also have to weigh the possibility of listening on assets with mid-range control remaining. Kevin Pillar, Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez are all controlled through 2020 and would be more attractive trade pieces that’d accelerate a turnaround and provide a more immediate boost to the farm.
As is the case throughout the league, the Blue Jays have the luxury of waiting for better health and potentially better performance before plotting their deadline course, but there’s certainly no shortage of key performers whose contractual control in Toronto is nearing its end.
A bit more on the game’s lone Canadian team…
- Blue Jays fans (and fans of any club, for that matter) will want to check out this excellent look at the lengthy process of signing top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr., penned by Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun. Simmons chats with former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos (now the Braves’ GM), former Latin American scouting director Ismael Cruz (now with the Dodgers) and former president Paul Beeston about one of several trips to the Dominican Republic to meet with Guerrero in person. With MLB forbidding clubs from working players out privately at their own facilities, Anthopoulos solicited help from then-Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion to secure an independent field to host the workout, which Encarnacion attended as well. (Encarnacion provided a decisive endorsement for the then-15-year-old Guerrero.) Simmons’ story examines Guerrero’s connection with Canada dating back to his father’s tenure with the Expos (Guerrero Jr. was born in Montreal) and details the countless hours of work, millions of dollars and even trades to acquire international bonus allotments that went into signing the 19-year-old who is now arguably the game’s most anticipated minor leaguer. “I’ve never seen two guys more convinced about a player than Alex and Ismael were,” Beeston tells Simmons. “If you don’t believe in your GM and in your Latin American scouting director, you have the wrong GM and the wrong scouting director.”
- It doesn’t seem as if there’s resolution in sight on the investigation into abuse allegations against Jays closer Roberto Osuna, writes FanRag’s Jon Heyman. Major League Baseball is still awaiting Canadian law enforcement to conclude its own investigation and has not yet seen any of the reports or findings from those efforts, per Heyman. In previous U.S.-based investigations, commissioner Rob Manfred and his staff have waited for criminal investigations to wrap up before making their own assessment, and it seems that’s also the case in this instance. Heyman also rightly points out that the deal could have significant ramifications for Osuna in terms of service time and free agency; the 23-year-old entered the season with exactly three years of MLB service time, so a suspension that costs him anything more than 15 days of service time would leave him shy of four full years of service at season’s end, thus pushing his path to free agency back by a full year. At present, Osuna can become a free agent after the 2020 season, but a suspension of even modest length would push that back to the 2021-22 offseason. At present, Osuna is still earning service time and being paid while on administrative leave.