There is a lot of chatter about trading a starting pitcher in a market light on pitching. For the Blue Jays, I think that is a foolish notion.
Note: this is a counter-point to an article published earlier this week; you can read the argument in favour of trading a pitcher here.
The Blue Jays are facing a very different offseason this year. For the first time in recent memory the Blue Jays will need to replace offensive tools rather than rotation pieces. In a free agent market full of sturdy bats, trading away valuable rotation pieces is a risky, and needless move. The Blue Jays should not trade away a strength to benefit a perceived weakness.
Just over a year ago, I was among the many who thought the Jays hadn’t done enough. Yes, they had resigned Marco Estrada and brought back J.A. Happ, but I didn’t think our rotation was as good as it could get. I was eager to see a bat, namely Troy Tulowitski’s, traded to add a top of the line starter. A year later and I feel foolish. The Blue Jays rotation posted the best ERA in the American League and, with minimal exceptions, used just the same five guys for almost the entire year.
How many other teams can say they needed to use just seven starters all season? Not many. At the time, I was concerned about Shapiro and Co.’s ability to make the right choices. They have made me eat it for the better part of a year.
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While the Blue Jays are in new tides seeing the likely departure of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, some of their offensive core is still intact. The 2016 season was a bad year for Joey Bats, only Encarnacion’s departure will really sting. The Blue Jays still have a solid offensive core with Devon Travis, Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, and Russell Martin. With the top of the order as strong as that, it will be easy for the Jays to find a free agent who compliments our batting order. So yes, the offence might not be as good, that’s only because Toronto hasn’t replaced the people they are losing yet, and there is a plethora of bats to choose from.
Finally, the rotation is a source of strength for the first time in recent memory. Trading away a piece like this will only further complicate the offseason and mitigate the Blue Jays effectiveness next year. With a bullpen that needs a complete overhaul and an offence with many questions, why add another variety of question to the mix?
The Jays have a set rotation in Estrada, Happ, Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman, and Francisco Liriano. Anyone remember 2015’s starting rotation? That was Mark Buehrle, RA Dickey, Danial Norris, Drew Hutchison, and Sanchez. While excellent players all, the Blue Jays are clearly in a better position now. If you go back further than 2015, things only get worse.
The Blue Jays have made it to the ALCS two years in a row. Both years they had questions, and both years they came through. Last year the Jays didn’t trade off a bat for pitching and they still ended up with the best rotation in the AL. I trust Shapiro and Co. won’t be so quick to trade off a pitcher to add a bat, especially when there are so many up for grabs this year.