Toronto is nearing the one year anniversary of one of the wildest weeks in Blue Jays history. It started with a trade bringing Troy Tulowitzki and LaTroy Hawkins to the 6ix. Then, after a shaky drive along HWY 401, the premiere pitcher of the day, David Price, arrived from Detroit. Finally, before we could even come down from that high, the outfield was solidified with Ben Revere. The trades jump started this city creating an electrical charge that brought a much needed boost of energy. For once in 20+ years people believed that the post season was going to be a reality. Every game the rest of the way was filled with pure emotion and now, seems like a blur of memories. Price’s love of Toronto popcorn, Encarnacion’s homerun parrot trot, Tulowitzki’s back injury, the Bringer of Rain, Josh Donaldson playing like the MVP he is, running out of adjectives for those spectacular Pillar catches, Stroman’s return from injury and of course to cap it off, was that crazy 7th inning and Bautista’s bat flip.
This year, the Jays have a better record and are about 2 games behind Baltimore for tops in the East. In fact, if the season did end today, they would still be in the playoffs as one of the two wild card teams. But before that last effort push to close the season, we have just over a week left to add to the team before the trade deadline. Do you hear that noise? Is it the same electricity from last year? Is it the sound of anticipation meeting excitement? No. It’s just the sound of crickets. That’s it. What I am trying to tell you there will be no fireworks this year. When the August 1st deadline passes (normally it is July 31st, but this year it has been extended a day as the 31st is a Sunday) don’t blame Mark Shapiro, Ross Atkins and the new regime for the inactivity as it won’t be there fault.
Last year’s General Manager Alex Anthoupoulos did a fantastic job at the trade deadline bringing in those players and that energy. So what is different now compared to then? A few things actually which will unfortunately explain why the Blue Jays won’t be that active in 2016. The first is that there isn’t anywhere near the talent of rentable arms out there as last year’s David Price, Johnny Cueto and Jonathan Papelbon. There aren’t many aces that are close to free agency that would inspire trades unless you trade for a pitcher like Cole Hamels (3 years left on his contract) like Texas did last year. Secondly, Double A traded most of the good young pitching prospects that the Blue Jays had last year, so the cupboard is pretty much bare. Not completely empty, but not as full as other teams have to offer. Finally, with everyone knowing that Paul Beeston was in his final year last year as Blue Jays President, Anthoupoulos may have felt it was his last year too. Since he helped build the farm system to what it was, he had every right to trade a lot of it for one big push. New President Mark Shapiro however, doesn’t have that luxury. Shapiro and General Manager Atkins need to think about the future as well as the present. So even if there was an arm or two they could trade, they need to be absolutely positive they are trading for the right guy.
This doesn’t mean the Blue Jays will do nothing at all in the next 10 days, as there still some room to pick up a reliever or as some rumblings indicate, possibly picking up another outfielder. However, if you are looking for that big deal, be very careful of what you are asking for. The only real big trade chip that the Blue Jays have is unrestricted free agent, Jose Bautista. That’s right, rumour has it that Mr. (first name) Bat (last name) Flip may be traded to avoid losing him to free agency at the end of the year and getting nothing in return. It would be a strong move from a new front office that doesn’t feel as connected to Joey Bats as the old regime, especially since the Blue Jays have done quite well this past month while he has been injured on the sidelines. It makes sense doesn’t it? Of course it does, but like me, pulling the trigger on this trade, regardless of what you get back, makes you feel uneasy. Bautista has been a significant part of the Jays for the last few years and trading him would feel like betraying a member of your own family. So although it may be a quiet 10 days for your Toronto Blue Jays, it could still be a tension-filled 10 days. Enjoy.
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