Blue Jays: The AL East is vulnerable, and it’s time to pounce

ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - AUGUST 24: Joey Wendle #18 of the Tampa Bay Rays is tagged out at home by Danny Jansen #9 of the Toronto Blue Jays in the second inning during a game at Tropicana Field on August 24, 2020 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - AUGUST 24: Joey Wendle #18 of the Tampa Bay Rays is tagged out at home by Danny Jansen #9 of the Toronto Blue Jays in the second inning during a game at Tropicana Field on August 24, 2020 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /
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As this offseason’s market slowly develops, it’s looking more and more like the AL East is as vulnerable as it’s been in years, and the Blue Jays need to take advantage.

Yesterday was a big day for MLB roster transactions, but unfortunately it didn’t involve the Blue Jays at all.

That said, there’s still something important take away from the recent movement on the trade market, and the lack of movement with free agency: The AL East is as available for the taking as it’s been in years, and the Blue Jays should do everything they can to take advantage of the opportunity.

That’s not to suggest that the division will be handed to the Blue Jays in 2021, as that’s not the case at all. That said, I can’t recall a time when all of the other teams in the division were being this reserved with their spending at the same time.

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The Orioles are at the very beginning stages of a rebuild, and frankly, are one of the worst teams in baseball right now. As such, they’re mostly looking to give their young players opportunity next season, and may sign a few cheaper veterans later in the offseason. My guess is the Orioles won’t be competitive again for another five years, and that’s if they rebuild properly. They have a long way to go.

When it come to the Red Sox, I’m pretty confused by their strategy so far, and the lack of notable players being linked to them this offseason. After re-setting their luxury tax penalties in 2020 by trading Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers, I thought the Rex Sox would be ready to spend and looking to return to their status as contenders. While they still have foundational pieces like Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts, their pitching staff is in shambles. and unless they plan on addressing the group in a major way ahead of next season, then don’t expect the Red Sox to have a bounce-back year.

That brings us to the Yankees and Rays, the two clubs that finished of the Blue Jays in 2020. Again, both teams will remain competitive and are likely destined for a return the playoffs, but things could be different this time. For the Yankees, they could end up losing several key contributors like DJ LeMahieu, Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and more, and they haven’t been very aggressive in their pursuit of those veterans, or their possible replacements. According to mlb.com’s latest update, the Yankees “figure to have roughly $30 million-$35 million to spend — including LeMahieu, or not.” If that’s the case, the Bronx Bombers won’t be as strong as they were in 2020, regardless of if they can retain LeMahieu. His loss would be felt in a big way, but one could argue the Yankees would be wise to use that money on their rotation instead.

That brings us to the Rays, who were two wins away from a World Series championship this year. They’re going to be good again in 2021, and somehow they always find a way regardless of who comes and goes. That said, how could a team that was so close to the ultimate goal trade away their best starting pitcher? I know it’s what they do, and that they received a tremendous haul from the Padres in exchange for Blake Snell, but I don’t see how they’re better for it in 2021, especially after also losing Charlie Morton to Atlanta in free agency.

Next. The Padres just did the Blue Jays a favour. dark

Add it all up, and the Blue Jays should see the gap close a fair bit as they look ahead to the upcoming season. That gap could close even more if the Blue Jays can add an impact player or two to their own roster, and hopefully that’s exactly what will happen before Spring Training gets underway. Given the way that the rest of the AL East is conducting themselves at the moment, the Blue Jays have an exciting opportunity ahead of them, and one that should make Ross Atkins and his staff act even more aggressively.