Blue Jays: Why The Blue Jays Have To Spend in 2021
The smell of crisp November air is here, which only means one thing of course: MLB free agency is upon us.
The Blue Jays front office find themselves in a pressurized situation. After a winning season that succeeded three losing ones, GM Ross Atkins will see significant public scrutiny if the Jays can’t secure a marquee acquisition. The Jays have had their payroll as high as $175 million dollars back in 2017 and with a payroll expected to be around $100 million in 2021 after the arbitration process, the Jays faithful will surely expect a couple of acquisitions to uptick that number. The Blue Jays have the same ownership and there is no reason they shouldn’t increase that number considering the success of the Blue Jays ‘build-around’ pieces.
The beauty of their position right now is the tiny rookie contract salaries being paid to young stars like Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Nate Pearson, Vladdy and company. If the Jays don’t add to their team before these young studs get to the arbitration process, their payroll may get too high and they’d miss their chance.
Fans and pundits who have closely followed the Blue Jays know that it has been a commonplace sentiment the last few years to say something along the lines of: ‘2021 will be the year the Jays will be good enough to spend’. The reason that this opinion was relatively collective among fans is because fans knew that the younglings needed a season or two (depending on the player) to develop before making making long-term financial commitments.
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Now with all that being said, most of the young core had that time to develop and coming off a successful free agent acquisition in Hyun Jin Ryu, it is time for Rogers Communications to take the hint and break the bank. The Blue Jays young core have been on the right track. Guererro Jr, Biggio, and Bichette have all produced an OPS of at least .772 in either 2019 or 2020. The young pitching looks to be on the rise with young arms like Pearson, Hatch, Merryweather and company looking like they have the nasty stuff to make an impact in the near future. The problem with young players is the uncertainty that comes along with them and their relatively small sample size of player data. The Blue Jays are missing that veteran presence to take them to the next level.
Every winning team from the last few years has that ‘it-factor’ player who you know will perform every year: Cole on the Yankees, Lindor in Cleveland, and multiple players on the Dodgers, a team that has won eight straight divisions. As the common saying goes, ‘if you build it, they will come’. The fans in Toronto are hungry for winning baseball and a team cannot accomplish that sustainably without the consistent presence of veteran talent.
As mentioned above, the service time clock has started ticking for when the Blue Jays young core will become free agents and they need to act now to build a sustainable winner with veteran acquisitions. With 5-6 years before free agency for most of the Blue Jays young core, now is the perfect time to make a 5-6 year acquisition (or two) that can align with that window of winning. Not to mention, marquee players expect long term commitments on the open market and if the Jays were to wait for instance, three years before making that big splash, a long term signing wouldn’t align efficiently with the competitive window of the Blue Jays.
The offseason clock has started. Will the Blue Jays finally be big spenders and make a $100 million dollar acquisition? We wait and see.