Toronto Blue Jays: A Clear Shift In Trade Philosophy.
Before I begin, I’d like to point out a few things. David Price is a member of the Toronto Blue Jays until the end of the season. Believe it. Troy Tulow…. Tulowit…. (hold on, let me look at the spelling here…) Tulowitzki is a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. The bullpen woes have been addressed in the form of LaTroy Hawkins and Mark Lowe. We have a new outfielder in the form of Ben Revere, who also bats left and can hit lead-off.
More importantly, for those of you claiming that Alex Anthopoulos was overambitious with what he sacrificed to make these moves, please consider the following list:
- We keep Aaron Sanchez.
- We keep Marcus Stroman.
- We keep Roberto Osuna.
- We keep Anthony Alford.
- We keep Jon Harris.
- We keep Sean-Reid Foley.
- We keep Connor Greene.
- We keep Dalton Pompey.
- We keep Devon Travis.
- We keep Kevin Pillar.
- We keep Edwin Encarnacion – who many believed thought must be moved in order to attain a frontline starter, let alone an Ace.
No, you aren’t dreaming.
The reason I list all the acquisitions, as well as list all of the pieces that were not given up, is because I’m willing to bet my bottom dollar that no one believed that the Jays would make this many moves come deadline time, let alone moves to this caliber. For this reason, the 2015 Blue Jays seem completely new and fresh to me, even though much of the roster remains the same. It’s almost as if the entire team figured out their own Contra Code (by the way, that’s up up, down down, left right, left right, b-a-b-a select start) and received a sense of rejuvenation and renewal for their playoff hopes. Much of this has to do with a complete shift in philosophy by the Front Office, which is what I’d like to focus on.
Toronto Blue Jays
Ever since Alex Anthopoulos took over as GM in 2010 and made his first major move by trading Roy Halladay away, the emphasis was explicit and clear: develop of the farm. Since then, Alex has done a fantastic job rejuvenating the Jays minor league system by stock-piling it with young arms that had enormous potential. The notion of “dumping” the farm to acquire a big name talent was mostly undermined and regarded as an nonalignment of value for the future of the organization. Of course, many can argue that the infamous 2012 off-season trade with the Miami Marlins strays away from this philosophy, but if you notice, Alex did a fantastic job of drafting and acquiring young talent for the farm system since then. With the exceptions of Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, and Adeiny Hechavarria, which is a small percentage of the individuals from the farm that were traded (in terms of total number, not talent… relax), most of what the Jays have traded away hasn’t really amounted to much to the point where we face-palm ourselves in disappointment.
But the philosophy and plan has always been the same. We, as fans, seemed to begrudgingly accept that the Jays just weren’t the type of team to make a big splash move since 2012 because they were tied down by bad contracts. We accepted the fact that the Jays weren’t big players in the trade market come the deadline. It just didn’t happen and we expected such every year (unless you consider Danny Valencia as a splash move…. yeah…). Until, that is, 2015 happened.
Alex Anthopoulos was more aggressive with the trades that we have seen this week than I have ever seen. Despite what many fans think, in no way do I believe that Alex made these moves to save his job. No way. I wholeheartedly believe that Alex made these moves because he believed that the time was right for the Jays to compete with such a potent batting order and he may not have such a line-up like this again. Gone are the worries of trading away prospects that could take over the as core members of the rotation compared to the return. Gone are the worries of falling flat on their faces, much like they did in 2013. Gone is this “Same Ol’ Blue Jays!” mentality of not being players for big market players. Gone is the perception that the Blue Jays are the red-headed stepchild of the AL East and will fall behind the Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees. Despite a history of the Jays failing to behave like a large market team, even though ownership has deep pockets, the Jays now are acting like a large market franchise that’s ready to claim their right to the playoffs. We’ve waited long enough.
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The way Alex Anthopoulos has handled this season is absolutely fascinating. But if you look at some of the moves that he has made, it’s not that crazy. Somehow he was able to get the Los Angeles Angels to take that albatross of a contract that Vernon Wells had that restricted much of their payroll. Somehow he was able to acquire a young up-and-coming third baseman named Brett Lawrie for a declining Shaun Marcum, straight up. Somehow he was able to, not just trade for a pitcher that was awarded the NL Cy Young the previous year, but also extend him (even if you don’t like the move, in hindsight, but on paper it’s not easy to pull off). Somehow, he was able to flip an aggressive and perhaps careless aforementioned third baseman for the best third baseman in baseball, with years of control. So when you look at the wizardry that Anthopoulos has been able to pull off, this week should have come as no surprise.
But what does surprise me is how Alex, perhaps at the grace of ownership, has abandoned some of the walls that we believe he, himself, has set up when it comes to making deals. For instance, Alex has stated that he does not believe in granting players full no-trade clauses. However, since Tulowitzki was traded to Toronto, he therefore was granted exactly that, as was a clause in his contract with Colorado. This could not have been unbeknownst to Anthopoulos. Yet, made the move. Moreover, Alex was never one to trade away highly touted prospects (especially pitching prospects) in order to acquire a rental player. Yet, he made the move. Finally, Alex has never been one to push so hard for players at the trade deadline, as he based most of his acquisitions on value and control. Yet, he made the moves. The question then remains, why the complete shift in philosophy?
I think this has a lot, if not everything, to do with the departure of Paul Beeston. Although I do believe Alex saw the reasoning behind the limitations and reluctance in contract lengths expanding 5-years, no-trade clauses, and acquiring rental players, perhaps he was operating under parameters that he didn’t totally agree with. I suggested in a previous post that perhaps Alex was being held back by ownership in regards to the moves that he was and wasn’t able to make. But perhaps I was only half right. Perhaps Alex was limited, but limited instead by Beeston and not so much by ownership. Perhaps Alex sees the writing on the wall that baseball is no longer a game that, from a Front Office standpoint, shouldn’t be played with caution and parameters. Perhaps Alex believes that, if it makes the team better now, and gives the team a better chance of making the playoffs now, then those moves must be made. I believe that ownership is behind Alex and believes in his ability to make moves.
Yes, there’s a chance that these moves to work out. Yes, there’s a chance that these prospects that Alex traded away will be absolutely awesome and could own the MLB as we know it. Sure, that’s all possible. But it’s also possible that this all does work out. It’s possible that the Jays have got what was needed to make that desired playoff appearance. It’s also possible that with the acquisition of David Price, they make the World Series. There’s simply no way to know. But if you ask me, I would trade every single prospect that was traded this past week, as well as 20 others if meant a World Series appearance for the Jays. I’m that hungry for it, and it’s clear that Alex is, too.
This is an absolutely fantastic and exciting time to be a Blue Jays fan. Even if it doesn’t work out and even if the team is a bust, ask yourself when was the last time you felt this excited for your Blue Jays? When was the last time that the Jays were considered World Series contenders? I know what you’re going to say – “Yeah, 2013, and look what happened!“. Sure, but that does not at all mean that the fate will be the same. There’s something very different about this point forward that makes me feel incredibly confident. But if I’m wrong, then I’m confident that Alex can work his wizardry and make moves for the future. He’s done it before.
Enjoy it, guys. This doesn’t happen often. Go Jays!
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