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Mark Shapiro And Ross Atkins Will Walk The Line Just Fine

The blow it the *cuss* up talk is happening now, as the Jays sit a bunch of games behind the second Wild Card spot. And it kind of sucks because it’s early June and the everything-is-fun April seems like a hell of a long time ago. During these shitty baseball days, we’ve all been a bunch of bar flies sitting on bar stools in our local dive bars reaching hard for the bottle of Vlad to feel better about the long journey into the future, but even that fun has been temporarily taken from all of us now.

Ross Atkins spoke on some older guy’s sports radio show in Toronto earlier in the week. And on this well-known station, Atkins didn’t say much of anything – just a lot of vanilla comments. I was ready to get down to writing an ‘Atkins Speaks’ piece, but it’s hard to turn vanilla into some hard-hitting whiskey. I passed on the idea, but it did get me thinking about what the organization is going to do as the trade deadline fast approaches. And more importantly, what they are going to do this offseason.

I am actually really excited about seeing what they end up doing. It’s something that I’m looking forward to because at this point in time there isn’t much else. This season has been about as bad as getting stuck in a conversation at a bar with some dude who decides to go on about how Blind Melon was the greatest band in the nineties. And Paul Simon’s Graceland was the greatest album of the eighties, too. So, you listen to be polite and drink more because getting drunk makes everything less boring. And you don’t feel like disagreeing because that will lead to a really bad night at the bar talking to a random stranger the whole time when you just wanted to have a few drinks and feel good. This is not a *true* story.

Since I’m on this shit train of thought, this season has been about as dumb as that co-worker who feels the need to ask you ‘how you are’ ten times a day year-in-and-year-out. And it’s been about as bad as every movie Nick Cage has done since Raising Arizona. Well, I guess there were a couple fun ones in the nineties and stuff – maybe I’m just being an asshole now. I could probably turn this whole piece into a ‘the Jays season has been about as bad as’ thing and go on and on making dumb jokes. Anywho…

I digress. Now, the real thumb to the eye is that many of us (including me) thought the Jays had a real shot at playing some meaningful baseball in September. But, those thoughts have blown far away in the shit winds of 2018. And here I am sitting in my condo in Toronto – not outside enjoying the warm air – because I am typing up this whatever and thinking about how the Jays are going to sell some players to help other teams try and play their way to a World Series championship.

So, obviously the Jays are going to move some of the free-agents-to-be in July. And we all know that JA Happ would get the best return. And we all know that if Estrada can continue pitching like he has recently, his value will go up a bit more and so goes the blah blah blah talk for now.

It’s fun to play the whole GM thing and think up possible trades with your friends and stuff, but the front office has some real hard decisions to make on the 2021 free-agents-to-be. And those decisions are going to really affect the Vladdy years to come.

Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Roberto Osuna, Kevin Pillar, and Devon Travis are all players that the brass is going to have to make decisions on this offseason. And there is going to be money to spend soon-ish. But, who will they choose to keep? And who will they trade? Because if you’re going to trade any of these players, this offseason is the time to do it.

Whichever free agents that don’t get traded at the deadline will not be be re-signed by the organization. Unless, of course, they don’t move Happ, then they just re-sign Happ, which I’m fine with. Either way, a significant amount of money is going to come off the books. Josh Donaldson, Marco Estrada, Steve Pearce, Jaime Garcia, and Curtis Granderson are not going to be returning next year, so there’s $55.25 million, if my dumb math is correct. If Happ is traded at the deadline, add another $13 million to that chunk of MLB chump change.

And after 2019, Russell Martin will be off the books, which will make the $14 million owed to Tulo in 2020 not feel so terrible even though it has been very terrible lately. Seriously, what’s a Tulo anyway these days? I guess it’s just a tragic play in a bunch of broken acts. But, it was all worth 2015. And soon there will be cash. And by then there will be prospects with a bunch of arbitration years, so the Jays are going to have a lot of money to spend. But, who the hell are they going to keep around for team Vladdy? And what players from the 2021 free-agents-to-be will be around for that?

The brass are going to move some of this younger core and this offseason might be the right time to do it if certain players can finish strong. Some Jeff Blair guy made some comment that the Jays might be ready to move on from Marcus Stroman. And I’m not sure if whatever he is reporting is true or not. But, if Stroman has a good second half of the season, it’s probably not a bad idea to consider moving him. Moving Marcus might be the right play. Moving Marcus might not be such a dumb idea at all if his stuff is good when he comes back and teams show interest this winter.

I think that Roberto Osuna will be traded this offseason, but that’s a whole other story. Who knows when they will decide to move Travis, but if he can stay healthy this year and get going, he might be a player they throw in some sort of trade package. And then there is Kevin Pillar, who…never mind…

Now, what the Jays decide to do with Sanchez will be interesting because it would be cool to see Sanchez in a future rotation that could possibly feature Ryan Borucki, Sean Reid-Foley, T.J. Zeuch, and Nate Pearson as well as other prospect-y hurlers like Thomas Pannone, Jordan Romano, or Yennsy Diaz and company. The Shapiro and Atkins regime have added some pitching to their system over the past two seasons and they may add more once the trade deadline passes.

The Jays have some very hard decisions to make this year, as they transition into the Vladdy years. They have to move certain players and they have to decide who they see being a part of the long-term future. There is a smart way to blow it up. And the time has finally come for Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins to do what they’ve probably wanted to do all along. I’m sure that they will walk the line just fine. I’m just interested in each step they take while doing it.

  • Jeff2sayshi

    With all the money coming off the book, I’m not so sure it’s necessary to blow it all up and trade every last piece. There’s room to keep a solid core.

    On the other hand: See Atlanta Braves, blowing it up and only keeping Freddie Freeman.

  • Jroc

    I can’t see a stroman gone this year as they just don’t have enough warm bodies next year without him, after that who knows.
    Osuna makes me sad…..
    I expect Travis to stick around to help bridge the gap to the younger infielders as solarte is our starting 3rd baseman next year.
    Pillar is expendable I just hope they can get something for him.

  • Abogilo

    Does Osuna have any value to another team if the Jay’s decide to move on from him?

    I get the indefinite suspension is a thing that suggests the Jays are done with him, but this season is lost now and I would not be surprised if our beloved blue jays are just as motivated to get talented players this winter as the Yankees were with Chapman.

    Do we really expect the Jays to take a hair cut on his value instead of having him sort things out this year, then trying to spin it as an “everyone deserves a second chance” story?

    And if it is so clear that we should drop him… what organization do we expect will value character and role-model-y-ness that much lower than we seem to?

    Please help me understand what I am missing that makes a trade likely?

    • Deener32

      Osuna will almost certainly be traded before playing another game for the jays. A lot of it comes down to ownership.

      1. The blue jays are owned by a publicly traded company. No publicly traded company is going to want themselves associated with an employee who had a very visual (in the media) assault case.
      2. Rogers is a very liberal company.
      3. Travelling to and from Canada will become an issue for Osuna (and given that half the team’s games are in Canada it is in both parties best interests for them to move on)

      My guess, is he is suspended for the rest of the year anyway, and the jays shop him at the fall and winter meetings and get decent, but not great value back.

      The only silver lining I see to anything regarding his suspension is that the Jays pick up an extra year of control because of his suspension. So they will be marketing an elite reliever with 4 years of cost control at the end of the offseason instead of 3.

      Whole thing makes me sick overall- Tremendous pitcher, not even in the prime of his career and he brings a very poor situation upon himself.

      • Abogilo

        Thanks Deener. That sounds reasonable.

        I would argue that Rogers may not be a liberal as you think though – at least as measured by their responses to baseball players’ actions. Donaldson received little to no scrutiny for his “suck my cock” comments and Gibby was also not diciplined (that I recall) for the “players in dresses” incident. Kevin Pillar served a very modest suspension for his comments last year, and is right back in the media spotlight even if he is less hyped as superman than before.

        I think that if this case is settled quietly this summer/fall, Osuna ends up without travel issues and pays his “dept to society” by a trivial donation and speaking at some events in the community, it would be very easy for the Jays to keep him and most of the fan base would probably fall into line – especially if he plays well. I don’t think it should be this way, but I would not be surprised if it turned out to be.

      • El Cabeza

        What makes Rogers a liberal company – did the the multi-millionaires who make up their board of directors not vote for Doug Ford you think? Liberal companies don’t like to employ spouse beaters more than conservative companies do? I thought hard-line criminal punishment was kind of a conservative thing. Am I wrong?

  • Oz Rob

    Let’s gaze into a crystal ball a year into the future. Who is on the Jays 25 man roster? It could look almost completely different, the potential turnover is going to be huge. Who do you think is a lock for next year?

    • Jroc

      Everyone under contract with minor leaguers filling the gaps. Next year I expect them to scale back payroll and begin the roster churn that will continue as these monster contracts run there course, hopefully for 2020 there is enough promise for them to start adding payroll again and being aggressive.

      • Oz Rob

        Yep, given that there will be a lot of young players on the roster in 2020 making not much at all, they will definitely have an opportunity to spend a lot of money…should be exciting.

  • Rusty Shackleford

    I ready for massive changes….really tired of watching the same guys year after year have the same bad approaches at the plate. Morales, Martin, Pillar…I would rather watch a young guy struggle then an over the hill veteran at this point.