With only five weeks until spring training, MLB’s trade and free agency markets are starting to move. Why have the Blue Jays been largely shut out so far this offseason on adding elite talent?
A bad offseason so far for the Toronto Blue Jays took a turn for this worse this past week, as Japanese star pitcher Tomoyuki Sugano decided to stay in Japan, and the Mets swung a blockbuster deal to acquire star young SS Francisco Lindor and starter Carlos Carrasco from the Cleveland Indians.
Just since the 2020 trade deadline last August, Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins has missed out on opportunities to fill a pressing need with top of the rotation starting pitching via trades for Mike Clevinger, Lance Lynn, Blake Snell, Yu Darvish, as well as Carlos Carrasco. Robbie Ray was signed for less money, while Tijuan Walker and Matt Shoemaker remain free agents, as do Trevor Bauer, James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, Jake Odorizzi and Corey Kluber.
Why is Toronto – who’ve been rumoured to be “in” on almost all of these players – missing out on these FAs and big trades? Could not having a fixed address yet for home games yet in 2021 be a major impediment to improving the MLB talent level?
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Given the Rogers Centre in Toronto won’t be home to start the season with a closed US/Canada border, and Buffalo apparently out as it will be the home of the Triple-A Bisons, Jays players will be living a nomadic lifestyle out of a suitcase at least to start the season. Could this be affecting decisions as players consider uprooting their families?
As with many elite FA and trade targets, the Blue Jays were known to be in active talks with Sugano and his agent, as well as in talks with Cleveland about acquiring Lindor and Carrasco.
Could the top FA targets like Trevor Bauer, George Springer, DJ LeMahieu and JT Realmuto be looking elsewhere given the uncertainty surrounding the Jays’ 2021 home address? Or is the front office still not ready to move younger players in deals despite the opening of this team’s competitive window?
From all reports, the Jays appear to have the “runners up” for Lindor because they weren’t willing to offer young MLB talent like the Mets did with young middle infielders Ahmed Rosario and Andres Gimenez, suggesting that in the Jays’ case, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Alejandro Kirk or even Vladimir Guerrero Jr., were off the table even for Lindor?
Have the elite trade targets on expiring contracts, like Lindor and Cubs 3B/OF Kris Bryant, been unwilling to agree to longer term deals with Toronto in advance of potential trades? Or in the case of starter Yu Darvish, did he exercise his apparent “no-trade” clause?
Perhaps a combination of the above is to blame? Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins actually ran player development for Cleveland when Lindor was in their system, and he should have known the player better than almost anyone.
Former home grown Jays starter Marcus Stroman certainly unloaded in a tweet about how he feels.
Which leaves us hoping for bigger things to come from the young core and no injuries to Hyun Jin Ryu. Some might say fans aren’t seeing enough corporate love from ownership given Rogers controls Canada’s largest mobile and cable TV networks. Is there a legitimate concern that the Jays franchise is being run for shareholders, not fans?
As the ‘hot stove’ heats up in the next few weeks ahead of spring training, let’s hope for better news for Jays fans. The competitive window is open, and it’s time to surround this young core with more elite talent in the the rotation, bullpen and at premium positions like CF, catcher and perhaps even SS and 3B if someone like Kris Bryant, Javier Báez or Trevor Story remains available. There’s still time, but the front office needs to make something happen sooner than later.