Blue Jays’ next step: Long term extensions for their stars

TORONTO, CANADA - JULY 5: Josh Donaldson
TORONTO, CANADA - JULY 5: Josh Donaldson /

Now that the Blue Jays have likely finished their offseason shopping, the next step for the front office should be looking at extensions for Josh Donaldson and/or Marcus Stroman.

While the Blue Jays didn’t land a premium free agent like Yu Darvish or J.D. Martinez this offseason, Ross Atkins and company brought in several new faces while making what should be a few significant upgrades.

The middle infield was addressed with trades for Aledmys Diaz and Yangervis Solarte, Curtis Granderson and Randal Grichuk were added to the outfield picture, and Jaime Garcia was signed on Thursday to round out the rotation. There were several others tweaks as well like Craig Breslow on a minor league contract, and other under-the-radar moves like John Axford and Al Albequerque on MiLB deals.

For all of the areas that I had hoped the Blue Jays would address this offseason, the only significant one that remains would be at back-up catcher. It would appear the Jays are going to roll with what they have in house there, although that could still change before Opening Day. Luke Maile would be the frontrunner for the job, and while he’s a very good defender. his offence leaves a little something to be desired. Otherwise it could be youngsters like Reese McGuire or Danny Jansen who get a shot, although that could depend on a few factors. The Blue Jays should be able to get by anyway, and it appears that’s the way the front office felt about it too.

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With all of that in mind, what should the front office turn their attention to now? Obviously there are still plenty of free agents to monitor, as well as other camps to keep an eye on as rivals teams start thinking about their 40 man rosters. Normally at this time of year it’s more of a focus to start thinking about who COULD become available after some cuts, not who might STILL be available in free agency. Either way, Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro could still have their eye on a few bargain upgrades at this stage in the offseason.

The other task I’d argue they should start exploring is the long term extensions of their key stars. We’ve heard extension talk regarding Josh Donaldson all offseason long, and that discussion won’t go away until either he signs an extension, is traded elsewhere, or leaves at a free agent at the end of the year. His situation has some urgency, and there’s a good chance that those talks could happen in the not so distant future, especially now that the front office has solidified the rotation.

I’d also argue that the Blue Jays should start chatting with Marcus Stroman and his agent about an extension as well, especially considering that he stated he’s hoping for that outcome, per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. Donaldson has also said he’d like to stick around in Toronto for the long term, which is certainly have the battle when it comes to locking down stars players.

Their situations are obviously a lot different, as Stroman is just 26 years old while Donaldson will be playing his age 32 season in 2018. Stroman also has three years of contract control remaining, and Donaldson has just one campaign remaining. For Donaldson the goal would be keeping him around beyond this year, and for Stroman is could be that and a few other things.

We watched the arbitration process get a little frustrating for the pitcher, even if he quickly got over it and made up with Ross Atkins and company. As I said in my article yesterday as well, it would be nice if both sides could avoid a similar scenario in arbitration over the next two years, and there would be benefits beyond that for buying out those seasons, even from a cost certainty perspective.

Maybe the plan is to wait and see how 2018 goes before truly committing to a direction in Toronto, but if you ask me now is as good a time as any to begin extension talks with someone. I’d like to see the discussion happen with both the 2015 AL MVP in Donaldson, and the former first round pick in Stroman, and knowing both have expressed a desire to commit in the long term is a great place to start.

Next: What's the best way to use Joe Biagini now?

Now that the offseason shopping is more or less complete, why not make it the next think to work on?