What is the Blue Jays’ Window For Contention? Optimist, Pessimist, Realist

Dec 4, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Toronto Blue Jays new general manager Ross Atkins (right) answers questions along with club president Mark Shapiro during an introductory media conference at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 4, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Toronto Blue Jays new general manager Ross Atkins (right) answers questions along with club president Mark Shapiro during an introductory media conference at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /
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Feb 16, 2017; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman (6), starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez (41) and pitcher Conner Greene (22) sit on the bench at Cecil P. Englebert Recreation Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 16, 2017; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman (6), starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez (41) and pitcher Conner Greene (22) sit on the bench at Cecil P. Englebert Recreation Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Optimist – Chris Henderson

Is there an optimistic way to look at the future of the Toronto Blue Jays? Of course there is, even after a start to the season like they’ve experienced thus far.

Despite being the oldest club in baseball, the Blue Jays have several great pieces to build on, for the immediate future and in coming seasons. Yes, the likes of Bautista, Donaldson, Tulowitzki and more are on the wrong side of 30, but there are several more key pieces to the organization that are just getting their careers started.

Mar 21, 2017; Sarasota, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez (41) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 21, 2017; Sarasota, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez (41) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

In the rotation, the Blue Jays have two key pieces that collectively cost less than than Justin Smoak in salary this season. Aaron Sanchez lead the American League in ERA last season, and is on a minimum contract for 2017, much to the chagrin of his agent, Scott Boras. Sanchez won’t be a free agent until the 2021 season, so the Jays will get to enjoy his talent for several seasons at a minimal cost compared to his talent.

Marcus Stroman is slightly further along, earning himself 3.4 million this year, after getting a big raise through arbitration. Stroman also earned the minimum last season, and is just starting to get more expensive. At the same time, the young star seems to be really coming into his own as well. The Blue Jays still have 4 seasons of control (counting this year) with Stroman as well, giving them a formidable 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation for awhile at least.

Add players like Devon Travis, Kevin Pillar, Rowdy Tellez, Vlad Guerrero Jr, and more withing the minor leagues, and the Blue Jays have the pieces to continue to contend, while continuing to build the club from within. Assuming the Blue Jays can stay competitive this year and next, look for Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins to employ a similar model to what we’re seeing in New York with the Yankees right now.

It would be a shame to sell everything and build from the ground up, especially after reviving a starved franchise with back to back playoff appearances. Given the way the club is built, it shouldn’t have to come to that.

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