Blue Jays: Looking back at what was left on the table
While it looks like Blue Jays will get some value out of Julian Merryweather, who is finally healthy, let’s look back at what was left on the table in 2018.
Following the 2016 season, the Blue Jays front office was at a crossroads. Coming off a winning season that took them to their second consecutive ALCS appearance, GM Ross Atkins had his hands full with an aging team with franchise players Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista set to hit the open market.
Fans did not want to see either of fan favourites walk out the door, but ultimately the decision was made to trim payroll and reinvest into cheaper alternatives. What puzzled me about that offseason and the next year’s trade deadline was the front office’s failure to acknowledge where the team was at, where the team was going, and the young prospects that were knocking at the door.
A combination of these factors made it hard for me to understand why the front office was content putting out an underachieving team with players whose trade value continued to diminish, most notably in Josh Donaldson. In the year and a half following those playoff runs the Jays had more than enough opportunities to take advantage of Donaldson’s value. Not only did they have opportunities, they had a serious offer on the table from the Cardinals. The Cardinals wanted JD and they wanted him bad.
More from Jays Journal
- 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
They were willing to part ways with their rookie sensation Jack Flaherty as a part of a two prospect package that would’ve come north of the border had the deal been completed. Of course, Flaherty had yet to show the type of player we’ve seen over the last two seasons, and it easy to sit here now and think why would the front office not pull the trigger on a deal like this. With that being said, Flaherty was a young pitching prospect with enough potential that Ross Atkins should have been willing to take the risk, especially with Donaldson blocking the path for the Jays top prospect at the time Vladmir Guerrero Jr.
Instead of taking advantage of Donaldson’s trade value before he had an injury-plagued 2018, they waited until his value was next to nothing, shipping him off to Cleveland at the deadline for a PTBNL that ended up being Julian Merryweather. As good as Merryweather has looked so far for the Jays this year, he didn’t pitch for two years and his small sample size this year is not enough for me to think the front office made the right choice.
Let’s pretend for a minute that the front office dealt Donaldson in the 2017 offseason and got just Flaherty in return. We could very well be looking at a three-headed monster at the front of our rotation for the next four years. Imagine Flaherty, Ryu, Pearson leading the staff with guys like Matt Shoemaker, Ryan Borucki, or Anthony Kay filling out the back end. That is a playoff rotation. Period.
With the young core of position players that are already competing at the big league level, and Josh Donaldson moving on to his third team since that trade, it’s hard to not think about the what ifs of that situation. I’m excited to see what Merryweather can bring to the team, and I think he’s going to get every opportunity to prove himself at the big league level, but knowing what was left on the table, it’s a tough pill to swallow.