Toronto Blue Jays: It’s Time to End All of the Tough Trade Talk


Toronto Blue Jays: It’s Time to End All of the Tough Trade Talk

I’m going to play Devil’s Advocate here – I’m going to argue that the Toronto Blue Jays shouldn’t make any significant trades this season.

May 14, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Jose Bautista (19) celebrates with first baseman Edwin Encarnacion (10) after hitting a home run during the first inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

(This isn’t the same as saying they don’t need to do something, but I don’t think they’ve left themselves enough room to maneuver.)

My argument is simple: the current roster represents an imbalance between old players and young players. The core of the roster is composed of Jose Bautista (34), Jose Reyes (32), Edwin Encarnacion (32), Russell Martin (32), Josh Donaldson (29), Mark Buehrle (36) and R.A. Dickey (40). Donaldson is clearly the youngest of the bunch at 29-years old while everyone else is over 30 and in various stages of decline (yes, it’s true).

The window for these players to compete is gradually closing as age takes its toll. (In fact, the window may have already closed on Dickey.) At the same time, however, the Jays can’t really afford to part ways with any of these players since the team’s current existence is largely tied up in them.

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(I agree with Mike Wilner and disagree with Gregg Zaun – the Jays would be hard-pressed and reluctant to trade Encarnacion notwithstanding his struggles this season.)

On the flip side, the team’s future success is tied up in young position players like Devon Travis (24), Dalton Pompey (22) and Kevin Pillar (26). It’s also tied up in young pitchers like Marcus Stroman (24), Drew Hutchison (24), Aaron Sanchez (23), Daniel Norris (22) and Roberto Osuna (20). If the Jays want to land a big fish in the trade market, they’ll have to move one of these big names.

Jun 22, 2015; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Ryan Goins (17) at Tropicana Field. Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 8-5. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

At what price do you really think we could land a Cole Hamels (31), James Shields (33) or Johnny Cueto (29)? Is it really worth that price to compete for one or two seasons?

In other words, the Jays can’t pull off a major trade without hurting themselves down the road, and it can be asked if they’re confident enough in their chances of making the playoffs this year to accept the risk. There’s a logjam of teams now fighting for the final Wild Card spot and the New York Yankees have quietly built themselves a comfortable cushion atop the American League East. The Jays would have to run the gauntlet for everything to work out in their favour.

There are a handful of utility players that the Jays might be able to trade – Danny Valencia (30), Justin Smoak (28), Chris Colabello (31) – but here you need to ensure that the return makes it worthwhile. In their different ways, these players all contribute to MLB’s best offence. A fringe starter or an extra bullpen arm might not be enough to offset the loss.

May 29, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Kansas City Royals pitcher James Shields watches Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion round the bases after he hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, the Jays could move Ryan Goins (27) and Pompey may be expendable with the emergence of Pillar as an everyday centre fielder. What these players would reap in return, however, is an open question.

In the end, everything boils down to a team that isn’t properly balanced on the basis of age. You can’t improve the team today without subtracting from its future, and it’s not clear to me that the present team is worth that sacrifice.

Having said that, I’m sure the right trade could change my mind, but the best strategy with all other things being equal would be sticking to the present roster and hoping everything works out.

What are your thoughts? Should the Jays sacrifice the future for the present or show more patience? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Follow me on Twitter for regular posts about sports (especially the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Blue Jays), politics and other news topics: @williamefwilson