Toronto Blue Jays: Bad timing to start a rebuild

TORONTO, ON - JUNE 29: Josh Donaldson
TORONTO, ON - JUNE 29: Josh Donaldson /
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Toronto Blue Jays
TORONTO, CANADA – APRIL 8: President and CEO Mark Shapiro of the Toronto Blue Jays with his daughter Sierra and general manager Ross Atkins on the field before the start of MLB game action against the Boston Red Sox on April 8, 2016 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

You don’t need to “tank” in baseball

Major League Baseball, unlike the NBA, is structured in a way where gutting the team to tank for a few years is not necessary. Teams can work on their farm system, add young talent, and try to win simultaneously.

Look no further than Shapiro’s tenure with the Blue Jays so far. They have had two drafts, and in their first one were able to draft Bo Bichette in the second round, who is sky rocketing up the prospect charts.

They have signed many international free agents, including five of the top 50 international free agents in 2017 according to Baseball America. They signed Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to a seven year deal out of Cuba in the winter.

They traded for Liriano at last year’s trade deadline, while getting back two former top 100 prospects in the same deal (Harold Ramirez and Reese McGuire). They added Joe Biagini in the Rule 5 draft, who has a 2.4 WAR in 142 big league innings over the past year and a half.

They were able to do all that while also building a playoff team in 2016 that made it to the ALCS, and a 2017 team that was projected to be a playoff team according to Fangraphs preseason projected standings. (But obviously reality threw cold water on that, barring a huge second half run).

When it comes to rebuilding and trying to win, trying to do both is extremely difficult, but not impossible. Maybe the Jays can try to keep the team somewhat competitive next season, while also building up the asset base in other ways?

Then, if selling is necessary next season, they can possibly trade veterans in a position of strength with players having much better trade value, rather than a position of weakness with veterans who are not performing well (like this season).