Blue Jays: AL East starting to feel like it’s the 90’s again

BOSTON, MA - JULY 19: Josh Donaldson
BOSTON, MA - JULY 19: Josh Donaldson /

With the Red Sox and Yankees having great young cores, and the Bronx Bombers buying again, the AL East just got more difficult, just like it was in the 90’s & 2000’s.

While the Blue Jays have had a difficult season, most of their AL East counterparts have taken solid strides forward. The Boston Red Sox (55-46) currently lead the division by a game and a half over the Yankees (52-46), and the Rays (52-49) are just 3.0 games game of the lead.

It’s not just the records that the fans of those teams should be excited about though. In the case of the Yankees, Aaron Judge has been the talk of the MLB this season, as he has already broken the Yankees’ rookie record for home runs, passing Joe Dimaggio’s mark in the process. He’s currently slashing .310/.434/.646 with 32 home runs and 72 RBI in 96 games played. Historic numbers to say the least.

They’ve also enjoyed great seasons from Gary Sanchez, Starlin Castro, Luis Severino, and several more young pieces. As a result, they’re in a position to contend, currently holding down one of the Wild Card spots. And after a few years of the Yankees showing uncharacteristic restraint, the tides appear to have turned.

More from Jays Journal

The Yankees spent big money this offseason to bring back Aroldis Chapman, and they’ve struck for a big deal last week bringing in Todd Frazier, David Robertson, and Tommy Kahnle. They’re also linked to several other big names, including Sonny Gray and Yonder Alonso from the A’s, and several other big names. It appears the Yankees are done slow playing the AL East, and are prepared to start throwing money around again.

Knowing that and knowing what’s coming in the 2018 offseason in free agency, it’s not a great time for AL East opponents as far as degree of difficulty within the division.

That said, the Red Sox have built a fantastic roster based mostly on young players, and are currently leading the division. Stars like Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr, and more join veterans like Dustin Pedroia, David Price, and newcomer Chris Sale (who has been unbelievable in Boston) to form the first place roster. The vast majority will be around and productive for some time too, so this team isn’t going anywhere any time soon. They also acquired Eduardo Nunez in a trade with the Giants, which was announced late on Tuesday night.

For the Blue Jays, this could be reason enough for the front office to look ahead to 2018 as another season they should be taking a shot at competing. That’s not to say that the Blue Jays can’t compete with a hungry and aggressive Yankees front office, or a young and talented Red Sox core, but their reign in the division has already come to an end and things aren’t going to be any easier in the next five years or so.

The Jays do have a ton of talent in their minor league system, and enough talent on their current big league roster to have faith in a retool, as opposed to a complete tear down. It’s hard to imagine the Jays standing pat with their expiring contracts, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see them hang on to the likes of Josh Donaldson and/or J.A. Happ, with contending in 2018 in mind.

Next: What is the trade market for Marco Estrada?

You’re not supposed to let the actions of your opponents dictate your own moves, but when you play in the AL East it’s crucial that you take advantage of windows of opportunity. The Yankees and Red Sox have transitioned into full on win-now mode, so the Blue Jays have to operate with that in mind. That doesn’t mean you roll over at all, it just means that things got a little more difficult now that Brian Cashman is channeling his best Steinbrenner impression prior to the deadline.