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Next few weeks could heavily sway Blue Jays’ deadline plans: ‘It’s going to be an important stretch’

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Photo credit:Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Thomas Hall
1 month ago
It is beyond go time for the Toronto Blue Jays, as the struggling franchise enters a potential season-defining stretch of the 2024 season.
The Blue Jays came into Tuesday’s series opener against the Philadelphia Phillies losers in nine of their last 12, desperately needing to show a sense of urgency while facing the best team in baseball. Instead, they were outhit, outpitched and watched their manager get ejected for losing his composure over what he believed was a blown check swing call on Kyle Schwarber.
In the end, Toronto dropped the opener 10-1, falling to 16-20 on the year, while Philadelphia improved to an MLB-best 26-11. Only three AL clubs have a worse record than Canada’s lone MLB franchise, which sits last in the AL East: the Los Angeles Angels (13-23), Houston Astros (12-23) and Chicago White Sox (8-28).
While less than a quarter of the schedule has been completed, this team has dug itself a massive hole over its first 36 games — a hole they need to start climbing out of soon.
“We’re still in May, so right now, we’re talking about being closer and supporting each other more,” José Berríos — who allowed eight runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out seven Tuesday — told reporters post-game, including MLB.com’s Paul Casella. “Obviously, the record isn’t where we want it to be and we’re not playing the ball that we want, but we still have the opportunity.”
As miserable as things have been recently, they aren’t about to get any easier for a Blue Jays squad who’ll wrap up with the Phillies on Wednesday before returning home to host the red-hot Minnesota Twins, whose 12-game winning streak ended Sunday. Then, it’s off to Baltimore for three against the Orioles before they head back to Rogers Centre for a weekend set versus the Tampa Bay Rays.
The schedule should become more favourable once that stretch through the AL East concludes, at least on paper, with two series scheduled against the White Sox and one with the Detroit Tigers. They’ll also begin a matchup versus the Pittsburgh Pirates as the calendar shifts from May to June.
As you can probably gather, a lot is riding on this team’s performance over the next few weeks. But if their situation doesn’t improve, general manager Ross Atkins could be forced to make several difficult decisions as we inch closer to the July 30 trade deadline.
“You’ve got to try to continue to put the season in kind of segments a little bit, and really — I’ve said it — the season doesn’t get any longer,” manager John Schneider said. “No matter who you’re playing, you’ve got to go out and try to do what you need to do to win. … It’s going to be an important stretch.”
Surging back into the playoff picture isn’t out of the question for Toronto, at least not yet, but the organization’s post-season odds have taken a substantial hit during this recent downward spiral.
The Blue Jays’ playoff odds peaked at 57.9 per cent on April 22, per FanGraphs, receiving a boost after a 5-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals. However, they’ve trended in the wrong direction since then, plummeting to 22.9 per cent following Tuesday’s 10-1 loss to the Phillies.
With three wild-card positions up for grabs, the chances of Toronto selling at the trade deadline still appear slim, although that belief is starting to waver as the losses continue to pile up. And there is that fast-approaching cliff regarding the club’s current competitive window.
Notable players set to hit free agency after this season include Yusei Kikuchi, Danny Jansen, Justin Turner, Yimi García and Trevor Richards. Then, of course, you have Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. — a superstar duo that can become free agents after 2025, as will Chris Bassitt, Jordan Romano, Erik Swanson, Tim Mayza and many others.
The next wave of marquee free agents will come after ’26, including Kevin Gausman, George Springer, Daulton Varsho and Alejandro Kirk. José Berríos could join that group by exercising the opt-out clause in his seven-year, $131-million contract.
If the Blue Jays become sellers, it’s worth wondering how it could impact Atkins and Schneider’s futures with the organization beyond this season.
 

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