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
BOSTON, MA – JULY 16: Chase Headley /

The Yankees avoided a rebuild entirely

Following the 2012 season, the New York Yankees were not quite the same team they were previously. Their talent got older, the lack of farm system started to show, and ownership decided they wanted to get under the luxury tax at some point.

They needed to rebuild, but rebuilding is not quite a New York thing to do, so they decided to retool while also building up the farm system. Essentially, what Shapiro wants to do in Toronto.

The 2015 Yankees team that were the first Wild Card team, and nearly won the AL East before the Blue Jays went nuts in August/September, were not young to say the least. Every starting position player on that team was over 30 except for shortstop Didi Gregorius. They had three starting positions players that were 35 (Mark Teixeira), 38 (Carlos Beltran), and 39 (Alex Rodriguez).

That team played, and lost, in the Wild Card game that year, but you would think that team was on a downward trajectory, based on the age of their position players. However, one year later, they finished with 84 wins despite selling key pieces at the deadline (Aroldis Chapman, Beltran, and Andrew Miller), and two years later they have a team currently holding down a Wild Card position in July, while adding more youth to the everyday lineup.

Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez are 25 and 24 respectively. Starlin Castro, Gregorius and Aaron Hicks are 27. Greg Bird is 24 (he has been injured), and newly called up Clint Frazier is 22.

Those players are making up the new Yankees lineup. The only player out of that group who was acquired in a move even resembling a rebuilding move was Frazier, who was acquired in the Miller trade with Cleveland.

Within two years, they completely revamped their lineup without sacrificing a quality big league club. In fact, they held on to all of their veteran players until young replacements were ready to take over.

Beltran was traded to make room for Judge. Catcher Brian McCann was traded to make room for Sanchez. They acquired Gregorius after legend Derek Jeter retired. And so on.

More from Toronto Blue Jays

If you want to see a blue print of how to rebuild without actually hurting the quality of the big league club, then the current New York Yankees are it. Being able to trade for Hicks, Gregorius and Castro without using any top prospects to acquire them is a big reason for their quick turnaround. Shapiro and co. will have to pull off similar trades if they want the transition to go as smoothly.

Realistically, if the Blue Jays decided to punt the next three to five years and rebuild around prospects, no one should complain about that. It is a very realistic way to build a sustainable team, and this roster may need to do that anyway after 2018 if/when Donaldson leaves.

However, the timing may not be right at this moment in extracting the type of value they need to get, in order to pull off that type of makeover. It is possible that trying to compete again in 2018 would not make a substantial difference to a future rebuild.

In that scenario, either they successfully retool like the Yankees did and make the playoffs in 2018. Or if they are in this same spot next year at this time as they are this year, they can seriously start to consider moving the top trade assets (Stroman, Sanchez, Osuna), in addition to getting whatever they can for Donaldson and Happ.

Next: Brewers reportedly interested in J.A. Happ

Rebuilding right now might seem desirable as we all watch an old lifeless team play awful baseball every night. However, next year might be the more logical time to pull the plug, if they have to at all.