Blue Jays: How far into the rebuild should they go?

ARLINGTON, TX - JUNE 22: Jose Bautista
ARLINGTON, TX - JUNE 22: Jose Bautista /

After a series sweep at the hands of the Boston Red Sox, the Blue Jays have lost eight of their last ten, and have nearly cemented themselves as sellers at this year’s trade deadline. At this point, the front office is likely asking themselves how far the rebuild should go.

It’s been a pretty disastrous stretch of baseball for the Blue Jays lately, and as a result it’s become a near certainty that they will field calls on some of their veteran pieces, especially those on expiring contracts.

The list of one year deals includes the likes of Marco Estrada, Francisco Liriano, Joe Smith, and you could throw Jose Bautista‘s contract in that pile as well, as his option is unlikely to be exercised. It’s hard to say what each will fetch in this scenario, but there will be calls made on each player, no doubt.

Estrada has had a great two and a half seasons in Toronto, outside of the last month and a half. It’ll hurt his stock no doubt, but there should be plenty of teams interested in a veteran with a history of playoff success. Joe Smith has been a great addition to the bullpen this year, and with a salary of just three million for this season only, he becomes a very affordable option for the back of a bullpen.

We could talk more about those four, but the real question many Blue Jays fans are asking themselves is, how far will this rebuild go? Will they trade Josh Donaldson? J.A. Happ? Could it go even further than that?

More from Jays Journal

It’ll be a fascinating time in Toronto over the next few weeks. This team is constructed to “win now”, only they haven’t been able to do that lately. Removing the contracts of Estrada/Liriano/Bautista/Smith, the team would have $48.67 million to work with next offseason. They’ll have increases to the likes of Donaldson, Marcus Stroman and more, but there will be some money to play with.

It’ll really depend on how the front office views the pieces that are tied in for the long term, such as Troy Tulowitzki, Russell Martin, some of their young arms. Is this team a few tweaks away from contending? It’s been a narrative we’ve discussed most of the season, that they should be performing much better, given the amount of talent on the roster.

For the sake of argument, let’s say the Blue Jays let their four veterans walk at the end of the season, or even trade them prior to the deadline at the end of July. With a core of Donaldson, Justin Smoak, Kendrys Morales, Tulo, Martin, and more on offence, not to mention the likes of Aaron Sanchez, Stroman, and Happ in the rotation, are they really that far away?

To be certain, there’s an argument to be made for tearing things down as much as you can, and building upon the solid blocks in place in their minor league system. Future stars like Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr are at least a couple years away from being impact players, so maybe it makes more sense to build for the next wave.

To me, the most sensible approach is to take the path that the New York Yankees have in recent years, moving on from some expensive veterans and exercising financial discipline, while also putting a competitive product on the field. The fan base has been revived in Toronto over the last couple years, and going back to being an obvious basement dweller would be a major step backwards for Rogers.

Next: Blue Jays deal Jason Grilli to the Rangers

It’s in everyone’s best interest for the team to remain competitive. While that may not mean that they’re going to be buyers at this year’s deadline, the front office should proceed with caution around the idea of a complete tear down. That doesn’t mean they can’t or shouldn’t consider moving the likes of Donaldson and Happ as well as this year’s expiring contracts, but there is enough talent on the roster to have a competitive team next year. It just might be time to start thinking about 2018 now, either way.