If the Blue Jays sell at the deadline, James Click needs full autonomy over baseball operations

An open letter to Ed Rogers and the Blue Jays ownership.
Toronto Blue Jays v Detroit Tigers
Toronto Blue Jays v Detroit Tigers / Duane Burleson/GettyImages
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As former Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said last week in an interview on Sportsnet FAN590 on whether or not to add players for a potential playoff run: “Run differential is probably the sole driver; it’s huge, telling you where you are, and where you should be. The 2015 Blue Jays were destroying everyone on run differential, same with the 2021 Atlanta Braves. If you’re minus on run differential, it’s not good… that’s probably the No. 1 thing I look at.”

Sometime soon, the brain trust that runs the baseball operations side in Toronto’s front office will have to make a decision on whether to be buyers or sellers at the July 30 trade deadline. If they also look at run differential as a metric to help guide that decision, they'll know that over one-third of the way through the season, the 2024 edition of the Toronto Blue Jays have a run differential of -34, only better than the White Sox, Angels, Athletics and Rays in the American League.

Sure, they’re only 5.0 games back of the final Wild Card spot in the standings. The 2015 Blue Jays team that came oh-so-close in the ALCS that year stood at 53-51 as of the July 31 trade deadline, just one game back in the Wild Card standings; but they also had a run differential of +104 at the time, which as Anthopoulos noted, helped in making the decision to go “all in” on trades for David Price, Troy Tulowitzki, Ben Revere, LaTroy Hawkins and Mark Lowe.

Toronto was six games back of the Yankees in the AL East at that 2015 trade deadline. New York had a run differential of +57, while the second place Orioles were +48. But after tightening up the middle infield defence with Tulo and left field with Revere, that Blue Jays team would go on to win the AL East and suffer a heartbreaking 4-2 series loss to Kansas City in the ALCS.

As Anthopoulos noted, the 2021 Atlanta Braves also had the best run differential in the NL East at the 2021 trade deadline at +49. Even though they were five games back of the Mets and eight games back in the Wild Card standings at the trade deadline, he would trade for Joc Pederson, Jorge Soler, Eddie Rosario and Adam Duvall by July 30 that year. The rest, as they say, is history as Atlanta went on to win the World Series, with Rosario winning NLCS MVP honours and Soler WS MVP.

So as we approach the 2024 trade deadline, Toronto’s -34 run differential is instructive. Teams like the Mets (-24) and White Sox (-120) are already rumoured to be sellers. A number of Blue Jays have value for deadline trades this year, including pending free agents Yusei Kikuchi, Yimi Garcia, Danny Jansen, Kevin Kiermaier, Justin Turner and Trevor Richards.