Blue Jays Trade Deadline: A Different Kind of All In


So, the Toronto Blue Jays rocked the baseball world for the third time in less than a year. After acquiring Josh Donaldson and signing Russell Martin last winter, they surprised us all by trading for Troy Tulowitzki. This series of moves lead us to believe that they are indeed going for it. They’re trying to win. But, we shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that it is designed to do so in 2015.

Fans who are paying attention will notice that the Kansas City Royals are also loading up for a playoff run. They have traded for rentals Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist. Both of these players will certainly bring an impact for a stretch run. They just might be two of the better options in the “rental” category. Fans of the Royals must be beside themselves with such apparent efforts at “going for it”. It certainly is a very clear indicator of their team is pulling out all the stops to win this year. And, it very well could pay off.

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For months, fans of the Blue Jays were hoping they’d be in the same position as their KC brethren. Wouldn’t it be great if this club were actually to pull off the deals they’d been rumored to be pursuing? For weeks now, we’ve heard that GM, Alex Anthopoulos has been calling on all available pitching upgrades. From Cueto to Jeff Samardzija to Aroldis Chapman to almost every pitcher the San Diego Padres have, the Blue Jays have been “linked”. And, we waited with baited breath in the hopes that we’d wake to find some help for the rotation or the bullpen. We were hoping that our team would go “all in”. We hoped that maybe, just maybe, they’d pull off a big time deal for a chance to win.

The Tulowitzki deal is that, though. He will not take the mound for the Blue Jays. Ever. He is not the upgrade we thought this club was working on. He certainly is not what we’d be paying the price of Jeff Hoffman and Miguel Castro (or Jose Reyes, for that matter) for. We assumed that winning meant a trade for a starter, and a good one. But, this trade is actually representative of the Blue Jays’ definition of going “all in”. And, we should be fully clear on this definition by now. 

Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays /

Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays paid a premium for the best short stop in baseball. This not only is an upgrade over the position in 2015, but for the next 5 years as well. Tulo is signed through 2020 with an option for 2021. He’ll be making a mint over that period of time. He’s got $94M (guaranteed) remaining after this season. And, the club forked over what many are calling their top prospect in Hoffman. But, that is the price you pay for winning. Tulo helps this club win for the foreseeable future. He is not a rental. He is an upgrade that stays for a long time. It’s the kind of deal Alex Anthopoulos looks for.

For years, we’ve been hearing the term “sustainable winner”. And, for a while, we thought it meant that we had to wait for top prospects to develop and  fill the roster. That is part of building a winner. But, we’re seeing something different happening lately. The Blue Jays have been making deals recently that set them up for future success. The Donaldson, Martin and now Tulo deals create a core of players that will be here for years. IF you’d like to add Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion to that mix for next season (or two), you have a much more capable team; one that has a better chance of winning. It’s exciting. Now, they just need to upgrade the rotation.

So, is AA looking for a starter? He very well could be. But, you can forget about those rental options for now. The Blue Jays are not there yet. Rentals are complimentary pieces for clubs that are very clearly in contention. At this point in 2015, a rental might help them reach a Wild Card spot. Might. Instead, they’ll be targeting players with team control for longer than 3 months. They won’t rule out rentals, but that certainly is not their goal. If they can’t find a suitable trade situation now, they can try to navigate the much more difficult waiver claim trade process in August. Or, they can wait until the offseason and try and entice free agents. Who wouldn’t want to pitch with this offense? Right?

Unlike the Kansas City Royals, the Blue Jays’ version of going “all in” means they pay premium prices for long term improvements. This may not excite fans who are desperate for playoff baseball in Toronto. But, if we look at the bigger picture, in the long run, this team is better off following their definition of “all in”. Maybe one day, they’ll be in a position for rentals. That is not today.

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