Blue Jays fans have watched some of the fan favourites move on to other teams this offseason, with many receiving minimal interest around the league. Simply put, it’s a sign that we’ve overvalued many players in the last few years.
Entering the offseason, Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro had a lot of work to do, especially if they wanted to see the Blue Jays return to the playoffs as they did in 2015 and 2016. While the bulk of the roster continues to be under contract control, there were also a few difficult decisions that had to be made.
First and foremost, the front office decided that they wouldn’t be bringing back Jose Bautista for another year, which didn’t come as a surprise to many after the year he had last season. While the majority understood the move, there was always going to be a section of the fan base that wanted him back, and that remains even now despite the fact that the outfield has more than enough capable bodies. It’s not easy to let go of a fan favourite, even after they’re past their prime. As of this writing, “Joey Bats” is still waiting for his next contract, and hoping he can find a place to prove that his career can continue.
It wasn’t just Bautista though, as we’ve watched other beloved veterans move on and receive next to no interest around the league. One of the most polarizing players over the last few years, Ryan Goins, had hoped to find a starting spot somewhere in the big leagues in 2018 if the Blue Jays weren’t prepared to give him that opportunity.
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Not only did Toronto not make that promise to him, but they also decided not to tender him a contract, making him a free agent. After scouring the market, he settled on a MiLB deal with the Royals in late January, and will hope to make the team in Kansas City. In early February, Darwin Barney agreed to a similar pact with the Rangers, despite earning $2,887,500 with the Jays last season.
The latest example though would be Ezequiel Carrera, who was designated for assignment earlier in the week. Despite the fact that he’s set to earn just 1.9 million this year, there was no interest in him on the waiver wire after he was designated, at least not enough to pay his current salary. While that’s somewhat understandable, the Blue Jays have held a lot of value in his contributions after the last few years, with John Gibbons demonstrating on many occasions that he is/was a fan of what Carrera could bring to the table.
And yet, the foursome of Bautista/Goins/Barney/Carrera haven’t been wanted elsewhere, at least not on anything more than a minor league deal. Carrera will return to the Blue Jays’ spring camp as a non-roster invite, and will likely serve as depth in Buffalo. However, even then there’s an argument to be made for the Blue Jays letting him go, an idea that was covered by my colleague here at Jays Journal, Clayton Richer.
While I understand how easy it is to view “your own” as more valuable than they actually are, Blue Jays fans should take note of how things have worked out this winter. Granted, it’s been the craziest free agency market I can ever remember, but even with that in mind it’s pretty clear the Jays should have much improved this season with the new faces.