Blue Jays: Reflecting on the offseason acquisitions
The Blue Jays offseason acquisitions of Randal Grichuk, Yangervis Solarte, and Aledmys Diaz signaled a desire to win. Now, out of the playoff picture, it is a good time to reflect on the team’s offseason strategy.
The Blue Jays’ major offseason additions have performed well so far this season. Randal Grichuk, since returning from a knee strain on June 1st, has slashed .269/.313/.593, whacking baseballs all over the field. Other additions have lived up to their potential. Yangervis Solarte’s power is playing up nicely at the Rogers Centre — hitting 16 home runs so far this season. Also, quietly, Aledmys Diaz is a steadying presence at shortstop.
The front office successfully raised the team’s floor, evidenced by a solid 41-48 record considering multiple key injuries. The hope to be a contender, however, was never truly in play. In an article from Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi last month, Ross Atkins reflected on the Blue Jays’ start and unfulfilled mission:
"Not where we want to be, it’s not what we set out to do. We set out to have a contending team and right now we don’t.More from Toronto Blue Jays NewsMatt Chapman has been exactly what the Blue Jays neededBlue Jays: The goalposts are moving in the right directionSingle-A Dunedin Blue Jays advance to the Championship SeriesBlue Jays: Comparisons for Alek Manoah’s Second SeasonBlue Jays: Adam Cimber, the unlikely decision King"
It is surprising to hear Atkins talk about contending. Realistically, the Blue Jays’ roster hasn’t resembled a contender since 2016. In all likelihood, the Blue Jays are somewhere in the middle. They haven’t fully committed to a rebuild, and similarly, haven’t traded away their prospects for immediate productivity. Instead, the Blue Jays have made half-measures. They acquired position players in areas of weakness — although none of them good enough to change the team’s contending status.
Now, halfway through the season, it is a good time to evaluate the Grichuk, Solarte, and Diaz offseason acquisitions. Each player has performed above expectations. As it stands, Grichuk is young, controllable, and good. He promises to be the right fielder heading into 2019. Diaz and Solarte’s status is more uncertain. Prospects such as Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (recently called up) and Bo Bichette are coming up the ranks. At some point, there will be pressure to make a decision on Solarte and Diaz, maybe as soon as this year’s trade deadline.
Clearly, the Blue Jays’ offseason acquisitions delayed a rebuild. The front office improved the team, but only slightly, and not enough to be in contender status. Being out of the 2018 playoff picture, the front office will now face pressure to filter in younger players.
Next: Blue Jays may want to move J.A. Happ asap
Should they trigger a rebuild now, or push it back even further? The trade deadline will be telling.