Holy piss, there truly is absolutely nothing to talk about here in Jaysland (whoa oh oh) this week. Which I suppose makes sense, given that MLB teams are respecting the usual moratorium on doing anything remotely newsworthy while the playoffs are on. But I guess we should probably do something here, and with Gregor Chisholm producing a new Inbox post this week at BlueJays.com, and my own mailbag for VICE Sports taking a brief hiatus here in this news desert, I think it’s pretty obvious what that something ought to be.
And that is, of course, shitting on perfectly genuine Jays fans who merely wanted Gregor to answer a question of theirs. So let’s do it to it, and commence the hijacking!
As always, I haven’t read any of Gregor’s answers…
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It seems possible that Josh Donaldson is going to walk after 2018. I keep hearing how you can’t trade him because of how awesome he is. Well it would be even worse to let a 6-WAR guy leave for nothing. In my opinion this offseason should be, extend or trade.
— Adge C., Richmond Hill, Ontario
Look, obviously losing Donaldson for a single draft pick between the second and the third round wouldn’t be good. But worse than not trading him right now and punting completely on the 2018 season before it even starts? The fuck are you talking about?
Every year there are great players who reach free agency or who are moved in-season as rental players — many more than the number of top players you see getting dealt away with a year left on their contract. Who were the last elite players to be dealt at the stage Donaldson is at? The A’s and Rays moved Yoenis Cespedes and David Price in July trades when they had a little more than a year left on their deals — but those are the A’s and the Rays. Roy Halladay and R.A. Dickey immediately jump to mind, for obvious reasons, but they were moving from clubs that were veering hard into rebuilding, or had at the very least already given up hope for the following season.
There’s a reason teams don’t often move great players at this stage, and it’s that the difference between their trade value now and their trade value at the deadline probably isn’t huge, and isn’t enough to justify failing to put together your best team possible for the next season. That is, unless you really just don’t want to pay his salary, or you’ve already given up on the following year, or you are so much of a sad sack club that you know the payroll that will be freed up when the player leaves won’t be reinvested. The Jays are none of those things. And while the next great Blue Jays team would surely get some kind of a boost from whatever they might be able to acquire for Donaldson right now, doing so at the expense of 2018 (and of all the revenue that would be lost were the club to waive the white flag this early) when they could just as easily wait to see how the season plays out and then move the player in July, just doesn’t make a whole lot of fucking sense.
Yes, in doing this the Jays will run the risk of becoming this year’s version of the Royals, who held on to their rental players and are about to watch them walk away for almost nothing, but with some crucial differences. For one, the 2019 Jays will have some outstanding looking core pieces regardless (Stroman, Sanchez, Osuna, Bichette, Guerrero, etc.). And, for two, they will almost certainly be willing to invest some of the $46 million coming off the books in the form of Donaldson, Happ, and Estrada to help make that team — and the ones in 2020, 2021, etc. — better.
So… relax. Some lean years may yet be coming for this franchise, whether we like it or not. No need to rush into them — not now that we’ve past the point of no return on getting an extraordinary bounty in a Donaldson deal anyway.
Since we can safely assume that Devon Travis will get hurt at some point in 2018 and miss an extended period of time, can you foresee a situation where Richard Urena gets some reps at second?
— Paul G., Rochester, New York
No, we absolutely cannot safely assume that. And no, Richard Ureña should not have anything to do with second base.
First of all, clearly Devon Travis’s knee is going to be a problem going forward — I don’t want to sugarcoat this — but let’s not go nuts about this. Let’s remember precisely what John Gibbons told Jeff Blair and Stephen Brunt when he chatted with them about the season early this month:
I talked to some of the doctors, and he’ll have stretches where he’s feeling really good, then the thing’s going to flare up on him — that’s what they expect. A lot of it’s going to come down to what he can tolerate. … I’m sure there’s going to be some times where he’s going to have to bite the bullet and play through some things, and there’s going to be stretches where we’re going to have to back him off and make sure he’s getting enough rest, and things like that. I think it’s something he can do, but it is probably something he’d going to have to deal with the rest of his career.
Now, I will grant that someone on the club’s payroll, speaking on the radio, is probably going to tend to lean to the optimistic side, but he’s not exactly saying Travis will never again be able to get through a season without missing vast swaths of it. So let’s maybe relax on that stuff just a little bit. (Which isn’t to say that the Jays don’t need to get some serious cover in case he does get hurt — they very much do — it’s just… y’know… “safely assume” means something.)
Secondly, until Ureña shows that he’s going to be able hit enough to even be a shortstop — and with a .247/.286/.359 slash line this season in Double-A, he’s certainly not done that yet — I don’t think we should be talking about him taking a bunch of big league reps at second base. The Jays have to do a whole lot better than that. And even if they don’t, I think there are better options in the organization, like Ryan Goins, Lourdes Gurriel, or maybe even (pipe dream alert) Bo Bichette.
President Mark Shapiro and Atkins have discussed their plans to “remain competitive” in 2018. I think it’s obvious the Blue Jays’ most glaring need is speed. Eduardo Nunez, Lorenzo Cain and Dee Gordon are three ideal options. Do you agree that Toronto should try to add one or two of these names?
— Alex, Vancouver, British Columbia
I absolutely do not think that the Jays’ most glaring need is speed. I think the Jays’ most glaring need is for good players. If they’re fast, sure, that would be nice. But if there are players out there who are not fast, yet otherwise fit a key positional need, or a key need of the lineup, then the Jays should go out and get them, speed be damned.
I’m not against getting some faster players on the Jays, and I definitely think they should explore Gordon and Núñez (I’m less keen on Cain just because they’ve got a lot of outfield pieces that all would really look best in centre — Pillar, Pompey, Alford, Hernández — so I’m not sure they need to go and add another), but for a whole lot more important reasons than because they’re fast. Adding speed for the sake of speed makes no sense — and while I don’t think that’s really what you meant, even just framing the conversation that way irks me a bit. Sorry, smallballers, but speed itself isn’t ever a panacea in baseball. You’ve gotta give me more.
What is the plan to ensure Aaron Sanchez’s ligament/tendon is healed by Spring Training and that his finger skin is toughened up to resist more blisters?
— Jon S, Cambridge, Ontario
The ligament is fine, or will be, so that’s not an issue. As for the plan… I don’t fucking know. Does this strike you as the type of thing you’d expect to hear a plan for?
Did the Blue Jays have anybody at Shohei Otani’s most recent start? How aggressively does Toronto get in on him?
I’m sure they will very aggressively try to sell him on how he’d fit with the organization, but beyond that I’m not really sure there are going to be many opportunities to be “aggressive.” Otani, if he comes, isn’t doing it for money, and because he’s not a true free agent, and will have his salary suppressed by the CBA’s rules on international free agents, there isn’t going to be much of a difference between what any one club can offer him, as compared to all the others — provided everything about the deal is above board. So… aggressive how? They’ll try very hard to convince him, I’m sure. But so will just about everybody else.