The early days of May are not generally thought of as a time when most teams start thinking about tearing down or rebuilding their roster. After all, we are talking about a point in the season where the Toronto Blue Jays have only played 37 games and the trade deadline is a good two-plus months away on July 31st.
However, we are discussing a team that after 37 games is sitting 11 games below .500, 9.5 games out of a three-way tie for first place in the division, and has won just a single series this season.
The high hopes and World Series dreams of the winter seem like a distant memory in the wake of the unmitigated disaster that has been the 2013 Blue Jays season to date. There has been no evidence to the contrary that this team has the fire to put themselves back into the race, and as such, perhaps some changes need to be made.
But what kind of changes need to be made?
Obviously, the moves the Blue Jays made this off-season were designed to field a winner in Toronto and as such, it is perfectly understandable that there is some misgivings as to what this team needs to do to right the ship. The team has solid pieces in place, so the case could be made that the team is simply under-performing, but how long can that continue before a fire needs to be lit under the players to turn that around?
The injury bug has also had its say in the team’s current status. Two starting pitchers (Josh Johnson and J.A. Happ) are currently on the shelf, another one ailing (Brandon Morrow), and two struggling with being effective (R.A Dickey and Mark Buehrle). That’s left the team plugging in the likes of Ramon Ortiz, Aaron Laffey, and Ricky Romero to fill holes. Couple that with the loss of Jose Reyes and now the injury to Rajai Davis, and the depth that was supposedly built up this winter has been severely tested.
So the question comes, do the Blue Jays look to buy or do they look to sell?
If you scour the web, it appears that the overwhelming consensus – at least outside of Toronto – is that this team should look to sell movable pieces. Jon Heyman at CBSSports is citing Josh Johnson as an expected trade candidate, whereas the Tom Dierkes at MLB Trade Rumors mentions that Darren Oliver could be a valuable chip to contending clubs.
Moving Johnson at this stage would likely net next to nothing for Toronto, either for this season or for the future. Johnson is a free agent after the season and has struggled immensely this season to the tune of a 6.86 ERA through 4 starts before heading to the DL. Without the promise of a compensatory draft pick on the table any longer, team’s won’t be looking to add Johnson at this stage unless he turns his season around upon return from the DL.
Meanwhile, Oliver could have more appeal, as a solid lefty bullpen arm is always being sought on the trade market. Also a free agent after this season, Oliver has against looked solid this season, despite his strike-out ratio being less than half of his 2012 mark. However, he’s not going to net the Blue Jays a world changer either.
Of the team’s regular, under-control players, only Colby Rasmus would appear to be a trade candidate at this time. A team could take a flyer on his potential again, but it would also be another case of the Blue Jays selling low on a player unless they can pair up with another team looking to ship off another player looking for a change of scenery to boost him up.
Either way, this is a team that definitely needs to make something happen, as the status quo is no longer good enough, and with each new day, the window of opportunity to turn it around is shrinking.
So, I put it to you loyal reader. Should the Blue Jays being buying, selling, or both?