Blue Jays’ Mark Shapiro “not looking to win the off-season”

TORONTO, CANADA - NOVEMBER 2: Mark Shapiro speaks to the media as he is introduced as president of the Toronto Blue Jays during a press conference on November 2, 2015 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, CANADA - NOVEMBER 2: Mark Shapiro speaks to the media as he is introduced as president of the Toronto Blue Jays during a press conference on November 2, 2015 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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Mark Shapiro made some comments on Tuesday about the Blue Jays’ plan going forward, and how the front office isn’t “looking to win the off-season”.

Well, if you were hoping the the Blue Jays’ front office would put all kinds of talented free agents and flashy trades under your Christmas tree this winter, then consider Mark Shapiro the Grinch.

All kidding aside, Shapiro made some end-of-season comments yesterday and did his best to keep expectations in check when it comes to their plans for this off-season. To be fair, I don’t know that many of us expected the front office to run out and sign the top free agents on the market, or to push for a playoff spot in 2020, and it sounds like neither of those things are in the immediate plans.

The Blue Jays’ president talked about how they wouldn’t be looking to “win the off-season” by signing the top available players. More realistically, the front office will look to strengthen their roster with their eyes on the long-term goals, and also continue to provide opportunity to their young and emerging talent.

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Thankfully Shapiro at least admits that the Blue Jays have a lot of flexibility as far as what they could do in terms of payroll space and even contract term. In this case, it’s more of trying to time the right free agent and trade additions with when their developing core will be ready to compete for a playoff spot, and ultimately a World Series title. While the kids showed a lot of reasons for excitement and optimism about the future, not even my rose-coloured glasses see them as realistic contenders next season.

By no means am I siding with the front office on the idea of being “cheap”, but I do understand their reluctance to make long-term investments in the roster as things stand right now. That said, I hope and expect that they’ll look to strengthen the team for next season, in particular with their starting rotation. However, if the opportunity presents itself, I also hope the front office would consider investing more significantly under the right circumstances even if it’s a little early, and Shapiro is at least hinting they’re open to the concept.

"“Some wins are more meaningful than others. Looking at other teams, even in recent history, San Diego, Philadelphia, that added big-name free agents, it’s kind of thinking about, ‘are we looking to win the off-season, or are we looking to take the next leap with this team’. We want to take that next step, moving from competing to winning. What those opportunities are and when they present themselves, we have to be prepared starting this off-season”"

I completely understand that the above quote will automatically make some Blue Jays fans angry, or instantly assume that this means that the front office won’t spend much money this winter. However, I also understand where Shapiro is coming from in a sense here. Our own Jason Lee wrote a solid argument against re-signing Ken Giles yesterday that explains the rationale quite well. Sure, Giles is an outstanding closer right now, but will he stay healthy and continue to dominate two years from now, when he’s on the wrong side of 30? That’s the question they’ll ask themselves with “100 Mile Giles”, probably as soon as next month.

That doesn’t mean that you close off the possibility of investing in the roster altogether, and it sounds like that’s more or less what Shapiro is getting at with his comments here. My guess is they’ll continue to look for players like a Derek Fisher, with high-end potential that has yet to be unlocked, or perhaps they wait for the market to fall out from under a worthwhile veteran like it did to Dallas Keuchel this past winter.

Next. Former Blue Jays well represented in the postseason. dark

Whatever it is that Shapiro and Ross Atkins have planned, don’t expect them to be throwing too many chips on the table this off-season unless the perfect hand comes up.

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