Blue Jays: Running out of time to justify being a buyer
Having lost three games in a row and falling to 5.5 games back of the 2nd Wild Card spot, the Blue Jays are running out of time to justify being buyers ahead of the July 30 trade deadline.
It’s very much been an up and down season for this talented group, who at times have looked borderline unbeatable, and others like they’re a year or two away from being a real contender. They started the post All-Star break schedule with a three game sweep of the Texas Rangers and got everyone excited again, only to drop two straight to their division rivals in the Red Sox, and then the series opener against the Mets on Friday night.
Now that we’re less than a week away from the deadline, Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro have to be scratching their heads about the best course of action from here. On one hand, they’re about to return to Canada to play big league baseball north of the border for the first time since September of 2019. An ideal scenario would see the Jays returning to the Rogers Centre in hot pursuit of a playoff spot, bringing postseason baseball to a city that’s been starved for professional sports and their beloved teams. Like the Blue Jays, the NBA’s Toronto Raptors have spent the majority of the last two years displaced and operating out of a different location in the US.
Staying with the positive side, this is a talented roster with a ton of potential, and there’s a strong argument that they should be much better than their 48-45 record, and could be with one or two more strong pitching pieces. They have four All-Stars in the lineup, and arguably could have had another in Robbie Ray. There’s also a bit of pressure to make the most of the time that Ray and Marcus Semien are under contract, as they’re both due to be free agents at the end of the year.
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On the other hand, can the front office justify spending much in prospect capital right now? As of the end of Friday’s schedule the Blue Jays are now 9.5 back of the Red Sox for first in the AL East, and unfortunately have fallen to fourth place between the Rays (8.5 back of them), and even the Yankees (0.5 behind). As for the Wild Card standings, they’re 5.5 games behind the Oakland A’s for the second WC spot, but they’d also need to leapfrog the Yankees and the Seattle Mariners.
It’s a very tall order, and with six games to play before they reach the trade deadline, the Jays may have to go on a bit of a run to show the front office that it’s a wise idea to invest in improving the roster right now. I’m sure the front office will pursue controllable players regardless of the circumstances, but I’m talking about the rental types that we saw them bring in last year such as Ray, Taijuan Walker, and Jonathan Villar. They won’t be trading prospects of any value in order to acquire those types unless there’s a true belief that they can catch the field over the next two months.
With 69 games left in the regular season schedule, there is enough time to make up the difference in the standings. However, they’re going to need to start beating the other contending teams, something they’ve struggled with for most of the year. After Friday’s loss they’re now 25-34 against teams with better than .500 records, and that’s not going to cut it if the Blue Jays want to make the playoffs.
I have a hard time seeing the Blue Jays make an about-face and becoming sellers, but the sand is running out in the hourglass for this young roster to justify trading away minor league assets. If they can’t turn things around against the Mets and Red Sox over the next six days, it may be a very quiet trade deadline after all.