4 changes the Blue Jays must make immediately to avoid tumbling down the standings

The time to make some major strategic changes is now.
Toronto Blue Jays v Philadelphia Phillies
Toronto Blue Jays v Philadelphia Phillies / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages
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Wholesale changes needed in the front office

Team president Mark Shapiro needs to bite the bullet and fire GM Ross Atkins and his entire analytics department; it’s time. After 8+ seasons running baseball operations, even casual fans are starting to turn on the unlikeable roster that they’ve assembled. James Click won a World Series as GM with the 2022 Houston Astros; it’s time to promote him to the GM’s role in Toronto.

Ownership needs to recognize the following:

Playoff wins since Atkins’ first season as GM in 2016 (with a team where the top ten players by WAR were all inherited): ZERO.

Farm system ranking after 8+ years of player drafting, signing and development: 24th, but that was before the injuries to top pitching prospects Ricky Tiedemann, Brandon Barriera and Landen Maroudis, while another top prospect, Chad Dallas, has regressed badly. They’ve been ranked bottom third by MLB Pipeline for three consecutive years.

Note also that after eight drafts and international signing periods, Atkins’ only 1st round draft picks and international signings currently on the 26-man roster are starter Alek Manoah (13.50 ERA in his one start), reliever Nate Pearson (5.11 ERA), and catcher Alejandro Kirk (batting .205 with an OPS+ of 70).

2024 Luxury tax payroll: $248M, which is above the $237M Competitive Balance Tax (CBT) threshold this year, and will trigger an estimated $3.2M tax bill; and that’s after they paid a $5.5M luxury tax after exceeding the CBT threshold in 2023.

There’s a reason why the Pythagorean estimate of Toronto’s win-loss record is only 14-23 compared to their actual record of 17-20: they’ve allowed 178 runs against only 134 runs scored, for a run differential of -44. In other words, their actual winning percentage of .459 implies they’ve been lucky to win 17 games so far.

We all know the Blue Jays missed out on Shohei Ohtani. But Atkins and his front office could have traded for any of Juan Soto, Alex Verdugo, Tyler O'Neill, Corbin Burnes, Dylan Cease, Jarred Kelenic and Chris Sale this past offseason. Or re-signed any of the available former Jay free agents like Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Marcus Stroman, Jordan Hicks and Teoscar Hernandez, or other available free agents like Jurickson Profar, Reynaldo López, Luis Severino and Shota Imanaga.

And the Blue Jays are already 7.5 games behind Baltimore, who are younger and more talented… with only a $114M luxury tax payroll and the No.1 ranked farm system. The Yankees feature a modern day ‘Murderers’ Row’ with Juan Soto, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton all bludgeoning baseballs.

The Jays farm is bare cupboards. The $225M, 26-man payroll is bloated. It’s also one of the oldest rosters in baseball. Bo Bichette and Vlad Guerrero Jr. will be free agents after next season. So will Jordan Romano, Chris Bassitt, Chad Green, Tim Mayza, Erik Swanson and Cavan Biggio. Danny Jansen, Yusei Kikuchi and Yimi García are all potentially gone after this year. And which Blue Jays’ fan is excited about 2.5+ more years of George Springer, who’s owed ~$70M? Ross Atkins has proven he cannot be trusted with any of this.