The Toronto Blue Jays have acquired some starting pitching depth already this free agency, and if history proves anything, there may not be any more significant add-ons this off-season.
Within the first week of the 2019/2020 off-season, the Toronto Blue Jays made a quick trade and acquired starting pitcher Chase Anderson from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for prospect Chad Spanberger.
If being a Toronto Blue Jays fan has taught me anything, it’s that this acquisition could end up being the big ‘hurrah’ that management makes this off-season. If you were hoping that the Blue Jays were going to go out and sign another impactful player like Zack Wheeler or Nicholas Castellanos, you may be out of luck, although it’s obviously still very early.
Historically, the Blue Jays have never been big money spenders in free agency and have also had issues in bringing players to Toronto during the off-season. The biggest free agent the Blue Jays have ever financially spent on was catcher Russell Martin, who was well-revered for his defensive ability but lacked in his bat on multiple occasions, but was a bit overpaid on a five year contract.
That’s not to say that the Blue Jays management team have failed to bring in players every off-season, with signings like J.A. Happ and Daniel Hudson being a bright spot on the Atkins management free agent tracker board.
It just seems like management has always ‘checked in’ on free agents and ‘try’ to sign players year after year, but come up empty handed the majority of the time. Obviously, we as fans and writers have no idea the inner workings of these deals and how close management was to signing these players, but the story seems to never change.
Every off-season, fans hope premium free agents will take their talents to Toronto only to be let down when spring training arrives. Players who could make impactful changes on the roster sign elsewhere, leaving the Blue Jays to look for lacklustre alternatives, even when management says they will go out on the open market to improve the team.
It also goes without saying that the Toronto Blue Jays are not cash strapped to add to the organization, considering the rebuilding roster does not command a significant amount of payroll space and Rogers ownership has allowed management to spend in previous seasons. If they wanted to add players, they should easily have the ability to add to the roster and money should not be an issue.
A majority of the players the Blue Jays do sign during the off-season usually have an asterisk beside their name, whether they are coming back from a significant injury, former top prospects who have washed out; waiver wire pitchers and players who management are hoping find their groove in a new system. All of these players possess the ‘diamond in the rough’ possibility where by hopefully spending less results in some sort of player miracle because another team gave up on the player, he was conditioned poorly, etc.
I’m not saying Blue Jays are going to go out and spend hundreds of millions and sign players like Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg, but there are a few free agents available this season who could improve the roster, regardless of the rebuild aspect.
Free agency is also not the only avenue the Blue Jays can explore this off-season, and history has been on the side of management using the trading route for more impactful players. This method has already been utilized by Atkins and Mark Shapiro to acquire players like Trent Thornton and Randal Grichuk, as well as prospects Anthony Kay and Reese McGuire since taking the reigns (there are more players, but these ones stand out).
I understand that Blue Jays fans will have varying opinions on signing/trading for players versus letting the internal core develop and fight for roster spots, but there will always be a risk in whichever path is chosen.
Management can choose to sign a premium free agent and they turn out the worst numbers of their career while in a Toronto uniform. They could also choose to sit on their hands, watching prospects fail to live up to the hype that surrounded their growth in the minor leagues, leaving holes in the major league roster. Both avenues can be successful, and both avenues can be failures, as well both methods being utilized to keep the roster moving forward.
No matter what avenue Blue Jays management chooses to go or what method(s) they choose to follow, I just want to see the organization keep trying to improve. Less signings of players of who possess no MLB experience and hoping they can turn out to be MVP calibre players, and instead sign more options with a proven pedigree that can improve the roster moving forward if they choose to explore the free agent market.
Signing players who ‘may’ develop into a legitimate every day player only takes at-bats away from internal prospects and impacts the rebuild from progressing forward, while signing an impactful roster player can shape and form the core of the team moving forward, without compromising the rebuild philosophy. By signing that impactful player, they become entrenched at the position for the foreseeable future and the organization can look to improve and develop other weaker areas within the organization.
More from Toronto Blue Jays News
- Matt Chapman has been exactly what the Blue Jays needed
- Blue Jays: The goalposts are moving in the right direction
- Single-A Dunedin Blue Jays advance to the Championship Series
- Blue Jays: Comparisons for Alek Manoah’s Second Season
- Blue Jays: Adam Cimber, the unlikely decision King
Free agency can be an area that sees general managers turn into superstars through smart singings, and other general managers becoming unemployed because they choose to do nothing and saw their organization spiral out of control.
If Ross Atkins is truly going to explore the free agent market and try to improve the starting rotation or other areas in the lineup, like he addressed that he would, it’s time to put up or shut up. Enough with the ‘checking in’ on players and enough with the mediocre signings. If you plan on improving the starting rotation or finding a legitimate centre fielder, then go out and do it.
Rumours will fly throughout the off-season, but it is time to see management step up and follow through on their words to improve the squad. You can have a rebuilding squad with young prospects on the field but also have a dash of veteran talent to supplement the active roster, whether it be an everyday player or a superstar ace or a bench player.
The ball is in your court Blue Jays. It’s time to become the next Toronto team to win a championship.