By Cole Parkinson
The New York Yankees may be referred to as the Bronx Bombers from here on out after acquiring one of the best long ball hitters in the game — Giancarlo Stanton.
Between him and last year’s rookie sensation, Aaron Judge, they might hit more home runs than some teams combined and that’s a scary thought.
As a Blue Jays fan this stings, especially since the Red Sox have been adding game changers to their team the past few years (I’m looking at you Chris Sale) and will probably add more before the 2018 season begins, so as the MLB offseason continues, the question for Blue Jays fans continues to be what’s next?
Do they throw in the towel and start the rebuild right now, or do they hope the team they have now somehow overcomes the odds and wins the AL East or grabs one of the wild card spots?
If they were to start the rebuild, the first name you start off with trading is Josh Donaldson, and trust me, this hurts to write because he has been the best player we’ve had since Doc Halladay.
I also think Jose Bautista has to be in that conversation and I doubt anyone, including me, would argue if you put him ahead of Donaldson.
That being said, Donaldson has put up some of the best seasons I’ve ever witnessed, including an MVP and two postseason berths in 2015 and 2016.
I would hate to trade the Bringer of Rain, but at the same time, if the team falls flat on their face like they did last season, you risk his trade value falling.
Right now it is still sky high considering he is one of the best third basemen in the league. But a trade involving your best player doesn’t mean you will get back the same quality of player even if they are highly touted prospects.
Just look back at the Halladay trade, that was supposed to be an even trade, with the Jays coming back with two highly- rated prospects.
One fizzled out and the other was traded before he even made it to the show.
So if Donaldson is on the move, GM Ross Atkins has to be certain he is getting something back of value, which is easier said than done.
On top of getting rid of Donaldson, they would have to try and move the mammoth contracts that are shackled to both Russell Martin and Troy Tulowitzki…good luck finding somebody to take those off your hands.
I wouldn’t be opposed to keeping Martin because I think most of his value is behind the plate, especially since he is a great battery partner for Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez.
I would be willing to keep him until his contract ends just to have a veteran presence behind the plate for our two top-of-the-line starters.
Tulo on the other hand has been a disappointment in a Blue Jays uniform.
Sure he joined the team and was on that incredible run to an AL East pennant in 2015.But really, his numbers have been far below his career average across the board.
Even worse, he seems to spend tons of time on the DL.
The fact he isn’t the old Tulo and his contract has four more years with a hit of $20 million for the next two seasons all but ensures he will be a Blue Jay for the foreseeable future unless someone is willing to bet that he can somehow recapture his old form…again good luck with that.
Stroman, Sanchez and Roberto Osuna would likely be the only untouchables on the MLB roster as they are legit MLB studs. But if they were to blow it up, how would those three feel about being on a bad team for a few years until the next hopefuls arrive?
Stanton was in that exact same situation and he requested to be moved, I’m not saying that will happen with those three but anything is possible.
Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette are two front-of-the-line prospects that Jays fans hope become super stars. But they are still a few years away unless they absolutely rake in the minors next year and even then I highly doubt they make their debuts.
Now, if the Jays remain on the path to wanting to compete in the 2018 season they are going to need a ton of things to fall in place as well as fill in some major gaps in their lineup.
The aforementioned Tulo and Martin will have to be way better at the plate, Justin Smoak will have to repeat his great season from last year, Kevin Pillar will have to contribute more offensively and Donaldson will need another great season.
Is all of that possible?
Yes, indeed it is, but we haven’t talked about the holes that need to fill in both corner outfield positions.
With Jose Bautista gone and Steve Pearce not likely to play a ton of left or right field, the Jays need some serious help.
Teoscar Hernandez looked pretty good out there for the time he spent with the Jays last season, and it would answer a lot of questions if he could collect 500 ABs and play solid defence.
He still hasn’t played a full season on an MLB roster, but he could surprise in spring training and take a starting outfield job.
If not though, the Jays will need to make a trade to acquire either one or two full-time outfielders or hope Hernandez and Dalton Pompey can platoon as the Jays front office have said they aren’t really looking at free agency.
I’ll admit that I would be interested if they could bring in Lorenzo Cain, under the right contract of course. But I’m sure he will get an absurd contract that will be brutal for the team who signs him in the last few years of his tenure there.
Another question mark is second base. I am always impressed with Devon Travis when he’s on the field especially with the bat. But he’s another player who can never play a full season because of injuries.
If he were able to play a full season I think he would easily be able to claim the full time second base job. But until he can stay on the field for a full 162, there will always be a question mark.
The Jays have already addressed this, to a certain point anyway, as they have picked up Aledmys Diaz to play some middle infield. But they still have their sights on picking up another utility middle infielder.
They also dropped Ryan Goins for the time being which I don’t think should shock anyone (expect Stroman) as he struggles mightily at the plate. Another name that continues to circle Blue Jays rumours is Josh Harrison (the super utility player from the Pirates). While he would be a good fit in Toronto, who knows if Toronto will be the team to offer Pittsburgh a good enough package to acquire him.
Whatever the Jays choose to do, we should be in for a fun remaining MLB offseason.