11
Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

What’s next?

So, I’m not sure if you heard the big news yet? But, yes, it has been six weeks since my last dumb cigarette. Every Jays fan is talking about it. It’s trending on Twitter and even in the internet ghost town known as Facebook. I’ve been the talk of the town.

I’m not going to lie it has been incredibly hard though, especially Friday nights. All I want to do is get drunk, smoke tobacco, and listen to The Stooges. I don’t do that anymore. I listen to The Stooges while I put away my groceries though – that’s rock n’ roll. I drink sparkling water, too. I’m in rebuild mode.

This quit has been about as bad as watching Kevin Pillar at the plate these days, which apparently I won’t have to do, unless I’m watching a Giants game.

Godspeed, Pillar.

I’m sure there will be a pile of more pieces about him to add to the pile that already exists. I’m not typing up one of those pieces right now.

I do have this to say though: I have taken the piss out of him a few times, which I probably shouldn’t have done as much as I did over the past two seasons. I actually enjoyed Pillar in those ’15 and ’16 playoff years. I admire any human that can throw himself at the concrete and not miss.

There isn’t much ‘leftover’ from the 2015 and ’16 days. It seems like the only beating hearts are Nora Durst and Kevin Garvey, which is why I have to ask: What’s next?

I don’t have a goddamn clue.

It seems like the front office has drunk about twenty triple-triples and are rip, rarin’, and ready to go. It’s like they have been waiting a couple season to put the pedal to the F-150 metal.

I feel like my At Bat app could go off and break the news that Smoak has been traded, or Stroman, or Sanchez, or Giles, or Buck and Pat, too. This year, the Jays have tossed Tulowitzki, Martin, Morales, and Pillar in the can. And they’re most likely not done yet.

Mark Shapiro and the executives are rolling around in the dirt. The dust cloud has not settled. There are few certainties. But, there will definitely be a lot of financial flexibility – a lot of prospect capital.

And no Bud.

As we all know by now, it is extension season and the Jays have jumped on that wagon by going 5-years and $52 million with Handsome Randy, not Stroman or Sanchez, which is fine – I guess.

Before Randy’s extension, this is what the Jays’ future payroll looked like, so there’s only a slight increase if you factor in his money.

I don’t need to break down this chart for any of you, you are all capable of reading charts. But, prior to Randy’s extension, which has the potential of being a real bargain, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was the only Jay who had a ‘real’ contract in 2020.

There’s a lot of future cash.

A lot of future cash to pay future stars.

I just hope that with all the financial flexibility that the organization has that they will open up uncle Ted’s wallet. Last year, Mark Shapiro said that the money will be there when the time is right to build around the future core:

“I’m 100 per cent confident that when we say the foundation is there, that we need to spend and surround these players with other players, that the support will be there to spend more on major-league payroll,” Shapiro told Stephen Brunt and Jeff Blair. “Whether that puts us at third or sixth or seventh (in MLB), it should be enough to win and win a World Championship. I don’t see that as a concern or excuse.”

Many of us fans felt that the time was right for Bryce Harper this past offseason, as ‘sign him you cowards’ echoed across the Internet. Toronto’s executives didn’t listen, nor should they listen to the fans anyway. But, damn, it would’ve been cool if they did.

The front office is tearing down the payroll like the roster, which is a part of their rebuilding process. Let’s hope the payroll shedding is setting up that future spending because it’s going to take more than just prospects to win a World Series as many of you already know.

The Jays have more than enough money to extend Stroman and Sanchez, bring in a big free agent, and sign long-term prospect-y contracts, too.

Ken Rosenthal seems to think that Stroman is almost certain to be traded this season along with Aaron Sanchez. And maybe he’s right. Maybe the front office is about to set fire to all the spirits of the past like they have done with the payroll.

I still think they should be careful about ‘blowing’ this thing up, even though there’s not much remaining to blow up or send into MLB space.

Last year, in a piece I did about the ‘rebuilding’ Jays, I said this:

Now, I’m not sure why any stooge would have wanted to do dirt for a few season like the South Side Sox are currently doing, or what the Astros did. There is no reason for that kind of suffering. And I understand that after the painful years that Astros fans had to endure, it was all worth it for the World Series banner that will hang forever. But, the Jays’ system is in great shape already and will only get stronger after this year’s draft, so there is no reason to do a hard rebuild because the rebuild is already well on its way.

If the Blue Jays front office chooses to keep the right core of veterans around for the next few years, the transition to the future is going to be a fun one. It might not even feel like they are on any road or bridge – or whatever you want to call it – to the future. This transition might just happen in a way that didn’t even feel like it happened at all. And that’s better than being dirt. And with the amount of talent that they already have in the system, Shapiro’s Blue Jays vision is slowly coming into sharp focus for even the most pessimistic and fickle of fans to see.

Ross Atkins has said that he expects this team to compete in 2021. And we expect this team to compete in 2021, too. There is no reason not to believe that the Jays are only a couple moons away from making the playoffs. And there’s definitely no reason to be a shitty fan who thinks that this organization is heading to nowhere land, even though the Rogers Centre has turned into a ghost town for now.

The Mark Shapiro vision is most definitely coming into sharp focus. But, who we can expect to see on this Jays team in 2021 is a whole other story.

Last year, many of us were talking about crossing the bridge to the future. Now, here we all stand on that bridge, which we hope leads to a flag that flies forever. We are crossing this bridge to the future today, but some Jays are not. The few remaining Jays from the 2015 and ‘16 core, who see themselves with us in the future, will probably be donning another MLB cap.