Blue Jays don’t need Cole Hamels to be champions

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Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, David Price and Craig Kimbrel. What do all these arms have in common?

They’re established. They’ve been in the league for five plus years each, certifying themselves as ‘big names’ across the league and most importantly at this year’s trade deadline. But more importantly, they are all big names that will almost certainly require a massive package to haul in.

Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays /

Toronto Blue Jays

Is that something the Toronto Blue Jays can stomach? Three of the previously listed four starters are rentals and would almost certainly cost the Jays at least one of their top pitching prospects in Jeff Hoffman and Daniel Norris along with a string of other youngsters who could easily have the potential to contribute on the Jays’ roster in the near future.

Sure, we could side with the “you never know about prospects” argument, sell the farm and when they pan out, plead that the Jays were ‘in their winning window.’ The Jays have done that before (see Noah Syndergaard). Need more proof? Look at the proverbial winners of the off-season in the San Diego Padres. Despite acquiring the big names of Melvin Upton Jr. Craig Kimbrel, Will Middelbrooks, James Shields and Matt Kemp, the Padres hold a 44-49 record and are currently 8.5 games out of the AL West. 

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  • In turn the Pads surrendered 11 of their top 30 prospects  including top prospect Matthew Wisler who’s already made a major league contribution in his six starts with the Atlanta Braves. It’s near certain the Padres would have been a lot better off if they had stood pat last off-season, but this post isn’t another effort to slam their misguided attempts at building a contender.

    Obviously, acquiring a pitcher wouldn’t necessitate a clearing of the farm system for the Jays in the same fashion the Padres did, but it wouldn’t be minor either. Losing a top pitching prospect like Hoffman could be detrimental to the future of the rotation given the prevalence of rentals on the market and potential departures of R.A Dickey and Mark Buehrle next season.

    Theoretically, the simple way to retain these prospects while improving the rotation, and potentially the bullpen, would be to trade for a mid-level arm in hopes of becoming the 2015 version of the Kansas City Royals down the stretch.  After last year’s trade deadline, the Royals played 34-21 baseball, earning themselves a ticket to the October dance where they were all but one risky attempt at home from winning the World Series.

    What’s worth noting is that the Royals made

    zero

    transactions at last year’s deadline and were eight games back–their furthest all season– of the AL Central on Monday July 21st. Maybe the Royals are anomaly but maybe, with a small upgrade, they could be the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays too.

    With the addition of Aaron Sanchez to the bullpen, dovetailed with an upgrade in the rotation like Scott Kazmir, Mike Fiers or even Tyson Ross, the Jays could have a realistic, if not lucky, chance at making a run down the stretch. With the improving play of the Jays starting pitchers, it’s conceivable they can outplay their projected 0.516 win percentage in the final two months to punch their ticket to the dance.

    Given how bad the rotation has been this season, and the luck that’s plagued them in season’s past, maybe NFL quarterback Russell Wilson’s quote says it best: “Why not us?”

    Next: Do the Blue Jays Regret the Last Big Package They Gave Up?

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