With the Toronto Blue Jays seemingly out of the playoff picture, unless a miracle were to strike down a quarter of American League teams, it is almost second nature for the media to start speculating on the future of the team. Namely, there is added attention placed on impending free agents and whether or not the team will replenish or rebuild.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe is always a great source of this speculation, often jumping in with both feet into a situation that doesn’t yet have any traction, hoping that by some off chance he will prove to be the swami and correctly predict one outcome. Such is the case in his latest Sunday Baseball Notes, where he enters the fray on topics that include Melky Cabrera and Casey Janssen on the free agent market, as well as whether or note the Blue Jays will shop Jose Bautista this winter.
Let’s just say, there isn’t a ton of substance, but Cafardo does present some food for thought. Let’s take a look at his various thoughts here:
- As long as Jose Bautista is a member of the Blue Jays and playing under a contract that pays him “only” $14 million per season, there will forever be speculation about the Blue Jays eventually trading him. That will be especially true this offseason. Cafardo says that trading the slugger will bring back a good haul and help expedite a rebuild, especially with so many top-tier pitching prospects nearly ready.
- According to Cafardo, the Blue Jays seem resigned to losing closer Casey Janssen to free agency this winter, and the team doesn’t appear to be too heartbroken over it. Janssen, again according to Carfardo, appears to desire to move out west, closer to his family.
- Outfielder Melky Cabrera has been a rock for the Blue Jays this season, and Cafardo notes that he is going to get himself a big payday because of it, perhaps a four or five-year deal. However, the scribe doesn’t necessarily believe the Blue Jays will be players when it comes to retaining their left-fielder.
- There is no doubt that Brandon Morrow is likely on his way out of Toronto, as the mounting injuries and speculation about his future role likely means Toronto will not pick up his 2015 option. Cafardo notes that his ties to John Farrell, who now manages in Boston, may lead the Red Sox to look at him as a “secondary” starter option, a role the Blue Jays are unlikely to extend to Morrow in the future.
Now, let’s start with Bautista, who every writer, pundit, and rumor hound is going to speculate that the Blue Jays will move this winter.
Now, there is no doubt Toronto will listen on Bautista this winter. They would be stupid not to. However, Alex Anthopoulos also knows trading Bautista would signal a retreat, something he doesn’t want to do to such a vocal fan base. However, if there were to be a move with Bautista, it would be this winter, as he will achieve 10-5 (10 year veteran, 5 with the same club) next season, meaning he will have no-trade rights, which will limit their ability to move him.
Now, I firmly believe that Bautista is still a rock in this line-up, and moving him would likely push back any postseason hopes for a few seasons, but I’m also not a fool. The Blue Jays are caught in the middle of two directions, neither of which are appealing. However, given their financial constraints and the many pieces they need to fill this winter, they are quite frankly closer to contending through a rebuild than they are through replenishment. A good deal with a solid return for the future must be considered earnestly.
Melky Cabrera’s fate likely lies in the decision surrounding Bautista. The Blue Jays, while still unlikely to commit a 4-5 year deal and especially if it means paying Cabrera more than Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, are not going to bring back Melky Cabrera unless they plan to replenish and try to contend in 2015. However, such a deal would also hurt any future attempts to commit to the team, when the window will likely seem more fruitful.
Casey Janssen and Brandon Morrow are two arms that have seemingly found their way out of Toronto through some struggles this season and quite frankly due to the need to save their salaries. Quite frankly, I’d feel better about letting Janssen go if Steve Delabar had been the Delabar of 2013 and not the one that fell apart in 2014, but there are options in our bullpen and also on the free agent market. Brett Cecil would appear to be the best choice, and Aaron Loup could also factor, although he fits as more of a first-class set-up man in my opinion.
There is also the option of trying to see if Morrow will convert full-time to the bullpen and perhaps try to be the closer the Mariners tried to groom him into. That said, it isn’t the role that Morrow ultimately wants, but his health record and desire to regain some value this late in his career may give him incentive to pursue the new path and salvage something.
So Blue Jays fans, where do you see the team going in 2015? Do you think there will be movement of Bautista? Do you think the Jays should or could retain Melky Cabrera? What of the closer situation?