Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays & MLB Offseason Timeline

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Now that the 2015 season is over for the Toronto Blue Jays, all we can do is look forward longingly. We look ahead to a 2016 season that should be full of potential. We have had a taste of postseason baseball again and we want more. In order to do that, there are some key moves that need to be made. There is bound to be lots of talk about possible trades and signings the Blue Jays could or should make. But, nothing can happen until the front office is set. And, that begins a list of dates (via ESPN and MLB) to keep in mind as you navigate these cold, dark months. While there may not be baseball, there will certainly be enough to tide you over until Spring Training.

Oct. 31/15- To begin with, the contract of GM, Alex Anthopoulos is set to expire on Halloween. So, Blue Jays fans are waiting to hear if we’re in for a trick or a treat. Many expect that AA will return to pick up where he left off with the 2015 season. But, with new president, Mark Shapiro taking the helm on Nov.1, this is not exactly a slam dunk. Around these parts, we feel that AA has done a terrific job with this team and he should be extended. This date just might be one of the most important of the offseason.

Oct. 30/15- MLB will announce the winners of the Hank Aaron Award, which is handed out to the top offensive players in each league. Voting for this award ended on Oct. 11. Will any Blue Jays be considered? Josh Donaldson certainly had one of the better overall years at the plate. Will it be enough to be recognized here? Or, will he get his hardware elsewhere?

Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays /

Toronto Blue Jays

Oct. 31/15- MLB will announce the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award. One member of each team is nominated for this award to recognize his contributions on and off the field to represent baseball. This includes community work and sportsmanship. Jose Bautista has been nominated this year for the Blue Jays. Fans voted up until Oct. 9. Given his reputation around the league, it is doubtful that Bautista takes this honor home. Unfortunately, it is the “sportsmanship” part that may cost him. He’s built up a reputation for arguing with umpires and, well, the Orioles.

Five Days After World Series Ends– Free Agency begins! This is going to be fun! The Blue Jays are a team who will be expected by everyone to target pitching help. Their first priority will likely be the rotation and then the bullpen. This free agency window will be rather interesting because, as of right now, it is not exactly clear just how much this club has, or is willing, to spend. We know that they’ve really tried to avoid heavy spending in the past and opted to explore the trade route instead. But, with lots of question marks in that rotation, this might be the year. Of course, that 5 day window after the World Series (please be a short series!) allows clubs to kind of negotiate with impending free agents. Can the Blue Jays sweet talk David Price and Marco Estrada in 5 days?

Nov 9-12- The GMs of each team in baseball will gather in Boca Raton, Florida. And, while what goes on behind closed doors, it always lends itself to conversations and groundwork for potential deals between clubs. Their real mandate is to discuss league “stuff” like instant replay and whatnot, but we all know that they also use this time to engage in initial dialogue for potential deals later on. Don’t be surprised if we hear of a trade that started with talks in Florida.

Awards- From November 9 through the 20th various piece of hardware will be handed out with varying levels of pomp and circumstance. Starting on Nov 9 with the Player’s Choice Awards and ending with the Esurance Awards (Gibbys) there are some Blue Jays who could need to make room on their mantles. Donaldson could be looking at an MVP Award (announced Nov 19) after Mike Trout seems to have been dethroned. Price has an outside shot at the Cy Yoing Award (announced Nov 18). You can also expect that several Blue Jays will take home Silver Slugger Awards on Nov 12. On Nov 10, the Gold Gloves are awarded. Did Kevin Pillar‘s nightly Superman routine earn him some love, here?

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Dec 7-10/15- Winter Meetings- Much like the GM meetings, there will be official league business being conducted in Nashville, Tennessee, but you can also expect players and certain camera loving super agents to hold court as well. Whether they are all working to get free agent deals done or swing a trade, some like to have this done before the holiday season and the New Year. You often get the sense that people like to have things done around this time. But, given that there would still be over 6 weeks until Spring Training starts, there is plenty of time to work. Of course, then the risk of waiting too long comes into play. Players can stay on the market too long. This makes the offseason so interesting. Timing is everything.

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Vlad Jr. is clearly still salty he lost AL MVP to Shohei Ohtani
Vlad Jr. is clearly still salty he lost AL MVP to Shohei Ohtani /

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  • Jan. 1/16– If Manager, John Gibbons, is not fired before Jan. 1 his nifty contract clause kicks in and he gets another year (2017) added to his tenure. This is a brilliant piece of work that eliminates any chance of him being a ‘lame duck’ manager. After the success of the club this season, it would be difficult to imagine him being cast off now.

    Arbitration- On January 12, 2016 players will file for arbitration, assuming a deal isn’t struck with their club first. This doesn’t mean that a deal can’t be worked out. They just need to file. Then, on January 15, contract figures will be exchanged by both parties. They will then have until the 1st of February, when hearings start, to work out a deal. A deal can be struck any time up until the time of their hearing.

    Donaldson is up for arbitration again. And, after an MVP season, he’ll likely see a raise from his $4.3M. He won’t be eligible for free agency until 2019, so signing him to a long term deal and buying out arbitration doesn’t seem likely. Though, there may come a time when you look at the raises coming each year and wonder. Justin Smoak and Ben Revere are also up for arbitration. Could they be expendable on a team that might be looking to pinch pennies?

    Feb 18/16- Voluntary reporting date for pitchers and catchers! That’s right, things will start to warm up and our boys in blue will start filing back to Dunedin to being the 2016 season. All players will be in camp by March 1, 2016. Just who all of those players will be remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure: it will mean baseball is back, baby!

    Next: Blue Jays Postseason Run Had Impact on World Outside of Baseball

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