So in the interest of changing the conversation, here is a peek into one alternate universe for the Blue Jays’ 2015-16 offseason.
1. The Jays fail to resign David Price
Price says all the right things about how much he enjoyed Toronto and how much he appreciates his new World Series ring (!) but is ultimately lured back to the US of A. Could be better money, or better popcorn, or better foul-ball-catching fans, but for whatever reason, they Jays lose out.
2. First trade: Tulo for Matt Harvey
Having lost out on Price, the Jays decide that they need a second Cy Young threat in the rotation. The only one on the market is Matt Harvey, who the Mets are marketing because (a) they were unable to sign both Wright and Cespedes, and so need offense, and (b) they are still irritated at the 180-inning fiasco. The Mets love Tulo for the glove, the bat, and the star appeal. They Jays feel that they can (reluctantly) part with Tulo due to the emergence of Ryan Goins and the ability to use Darwin Barney off the bench. And the fact that Harvey is projected to earn only $4.7 million in arbitration in 2016 does not hurt either.
3. Free agent signing: Leake or Zimmer
With Price gone, and Greinke and Cueto demanding crazy-high deals, the Jays turn to the next tier. Jeff Samardzija demands a 6-year, $100+ million deal which the Jays (given Shark`s inconsistency) are unwilling to meet. Mat Latos looks promising, but (a la Erwin Santana) decides that he would prefer a 2-year deal in a pitcher`s park to regain value. The Jays accordingly sign either Mike Leake (for 3/$50m, giving him a shot at free agency again at age 31) or Jordan Zimmerman for 6/$90m (Zimmer originally does not want to come to Toronto, but the deal-maker is when the Jays offer him an opt-out after year 3).
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Seattle successfully re-signsHisashi Iwakuma
, and withJames Paxton
healthy andRoenis Elias
continuing to develop they decide to trade Walker for offense. They originally ask the sun and the moon, arguing that Walker was once rated a
and that it is only a matter of time before he puts it all together. But they are surprised to find that teams are not exactly offering aJosh Donaldson
in exchange, pointing to Walker’s inconsistency, his shoulder issues, his lack of a quality breaking pitch, and the view among many that
. The Blue Jays offer Revere, who fills the Mariner’s need for a CF who can get on base ahead of Cano and Cruz. The Mariners also get Colabello, who (like Walker) has all kinds of upside and who lets the M’s moveLogan Morrison
from 1B to RF, filling another area of need.
5. The Jays exercise Dickey’s option then trade him (and Thole) for prospects
RAD’s $12 million option for 2016 is too much of a bargain to not exercise, but there may not be room for him on the 2016 pitching staff. His strong finish in 2015 (second half ERA of 2.80) and history of 200+ inning seasons should make him very valuable to a team with a young rotation and a need to eat innings. Particularly if that team was in a warmer climate, which could enhance the knuckler. Miami, who will likely lose Latos? Atlanta, with Wisler and Perez’s struggles? Maybe even a reunion with the Mets?
6. Free-agent signing (or possibly trade for?): Justin Morneau
Justin has a $9 million mutual option with Colorado for 2016, who most expect COL to decline. If so, the Jays sign him to a 1-2 year deal. Justin’s concussion history makes him unlikely to play a full season, but his .319/.364/.496 line won the NL batting title in 2014 and he mashes right-handed pitching. This should fit well with Edwin, who will want some reps at 1B and who beats up on lefties. Justin has been an above-average defender at 1B throughout his career (when healthy) and was a finalist for the 2014 Gold Glove at first base.
The bottom line?
The Blue Jays are left with an infield of Martin – Donaldson – Goins – Travis – Morneau, with Barney and Hague on the bench and Edwin at DH. In the outfield, they have Saunders/Pompey – Pillar – Bautista with Pompey/Saunders on the bench. That should be one of the most powerful offenses in baseball. And the rotation of Stroman – Harvey – Leake/Zimmer – Walker – Hutchison/Sanchez with Osuna as closer would be scary-good.