They teased us in August, and they still have games left to play, but the Blue Jays' season, for all intents and purposes, is finally over—2018, here we come!
With the team entering a transition phase, and there being so many question marks about the roster going forward, here come a whole bunch of questions on what lies ahead for the club! So let's take a dip into the ol' mailbag, shall we?
If you have a Blue Jays question you'd like me to tackle for next week, be sure to send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, I have not read any of Griff's answers.
Hope you are enjoying your Labour Day weekend. My question is a two parter:
What kind of prospect capital do you think it would take to obtain Stanton from the Marlins? (I understand it would obviously be altered by the amount of his contract you pick up, but I'm guessing Shapiro would rather spend money than prospects, so if Rogers said yes, I'm guessing they would rather spend the money than the prospects…
Second part of the question... If you're picking up the whole $300 million for Stanton, perhaps they would take Tulo's contract, or maybe Morales...even if you had to pay part of Tulo's contract, at least you get the production that Stanton provides, which would look pretty dreamy behind Donaldson...
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald had a fascinating scoop on this very subject over the weekend, reporting that he'd spoken to an investor contacted by the club's prospective new ownership group (led by Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter), and was told that the club will immediately slash payroll, "back from $115 million to potentially as low as $55 million (if Giancarlo Stanton is traded) or $80 million to $85 million if Stanton is retained."
The whole mess is pretty incredible to read about, but the other key part specific to Stanton is this: "The Marlins believe they have found at least one team willing to trade for him and pick up a large chunk of his salary."
If we believe this report, it sure doesn't sound like a team willing to take on most of the money is going to have to give up anything like top prospects to land Stanton. Maybe not prospects at all.
But you're not wrong that if the Blue Jays did make this kind of move—which, let's be honest, is just a pipe dream—it would work a lot better if they could find a way to divest themselves of players like Tulowitzki and Morales. Maybe that's where they could use their prospect capital—at least, theoretically. Like when they acquired Tulo in the first place by tying Jose Reyes to Jeff Hoffman, maybe they could move Tulo and one of their big prospects for salary relief (and perhaps a player that better fits their needs). But that's problematic for a couple reasons: First, giving up, say, a Bo Bichette just to get Tulo out and Stanton in looks pretty awful (just eat the money!), and deprives the club of all the wonderful surplus value of Bichette's early, salary-controlled years. Second, Tulowitzki had a contract provision that granted him a full no-trade clause if he was ever traded by the Rockies, so he doesn't have to go anywhere he doesn't want to.
So... yeah. If this were ever to work for the Jays, they'd definitely need to get creative, and get a huge buy-in from Rogers (especially if they ever hope to extend Josh Donaldson). Even so, I'm not really seeing it. Fun to dream, though!
Does the emergence of Bichette force Jays to ride-out the middle infield disaster for 1 (or 2?) more years and not search for viable replacement options?
Look, I understand being frustrated by what the Jays' middle infield has looked like this year, but holy shit. Fans sometimes have a weird tendency to believe that the last thing they saw always represents a new normal, so I get how this might be hard to swallow, but Troy Tulowitzki was a three-win player in 2016—a league average hitter with nice defensive metrics at a really important position—and Devon Travis has been worth 5.5 wins over his 213 career big league games. Obviously the health concerns over the pair can't just be waved away, but talking about riding out a "disaster"? That's awfully pessimistic for a situation that would look pretty OK with some actually viable backups and the understanding that not every aging player coming off a down year is going to continue to fall straight off of a cliff, and that not every player who has struggled to stay healthy is always going to fall apart and be useless.
Unless you really believe this is the end of the road for Tulo and Travis, you can't just sell them for pennies on the dollar and move on with healthier players who have far lower ceilings—if such perfect deals were even out there to be made. And especially not because of a teenager who, though he truly seems to have moved into the "elite prospect" conversation, has only played 40 games at High-A. I think the most optimistic timetable on Bichette would see him as a full-time big leaguer in 2019, and even then, it would be unrealistic to expect any rookie to come in and hit the ground running.
So, OK, sure, until at least then the Jays are "forced" to keep hoping for the best from what they've got and what they can acquire. But that's not really any different than what they would, or should, be doing regardless of who is in the system.
After a poor 2017, is Bautista back or do they bring up youth to save some money?
This is not the first instance I've come across of a Jays fan thinking there might actually be a possibility that the club will bring Jose Bautista back for next season, and it's... I... uh... wow, really?
Folks, he's finished.
It pains me to say that, but what more do you need to see? Bautista's big May pumped up his first half numbers to the point where they made him look at least like a league average hitter, but in the second half he's been putrid. He's slashed .157/.246/.335 since the All-Star break, striking out more than ever (26.5 percent of the time), and posting a wRC+ of just 48. For the season his mark is just 83. His bat speed is down significantly. He's been below replacement level. Next year he'll be 37.
I mean, it wouldn't surprise me if he still had another good season in him, because baseball and the aging curve can be funny that way, but bringing up youth "to save some money"? Holy piss, no. Bringing up youth because they won't be a complete and utter disaster.
I would like Gibby to stay forever. With that said do you think this regime will make a move and "Wedge" somebody else in?
Graham from Regina
Are we really still talking about the Eric Wedge thing? As far as one can tell from the outside—which, to be fair, isn't very far—the Jays seem pretty happy having him on the player development side of things. I understand that the new front office has never really had the opportunity to bring in their own guy to manage the club, because the optics of firing Gibbons would have been so ugly, but the assumption that Wedge was brought in to look over Gibbers' shoulder seems to have been unfounded. They could have found a way to bring him in if that's what they really wanted.
I'd be surprised if Gibbons isn't back managing the Jays again next spring.
Will Kevin Pillar still be the everyday CF by September 1st, 2018?
(Please say no for my sanity)
Pillar is an interesting case. It's really hard for a centre fielder (or anybody) to be as valuable with the glove as he's been—even this year, in what has been a somewhat down year for him by UZR (he's been worth 7 runs above average, according to the metric, compared to 21.4 last season). And as much as his hitting has been as woeful as ever, his 84 wRC+ still makes him viable for the position, and isn't too much below where you'd place your expectations on someone like Dalton Pompey or Anthony Alford (at least in the latter's rookie season). So... I can't say no, but I'm with you that it would sure be nice if the club could find someone who can come in and take his job away—especially if that person offered a little more balance between defence and offence.
Stoeten: Why are we not talking about Roemon Fields?
With the way certain segments of the fan base (and the media!) fetishize speed, it's maybe surprising that we're not. But ultimately what it comes down to is the fact that I'm pretty sure nobody thinks he can hit. And though it would be great to see him prove the doubters wrong, it's not like they're doubting for no reason. Fields is a nice story, and looked better at Buffalo this year, slashing .286/.351/.347 for the Bisons. But this is still a guy who, at 25, slashed .227/.295/.296 in Double-A last season. That's simply not good enough to be seriously considered a big league prospect, and the numbers in Buffalo don't necessarily point to significant improvements (his BABIP at the level was about 60 points higher than his career mark in the minor leagues).
R.A. Dickey has pitched 164.2 innings and been worth 2.2 rWAR/1.3 fWAR/2.4 RA9-WAR so far this year. Hindsight's a hell of a drug, eh?
Trilly Mo Peña
I don't know how he would have fit into the rotation picture this spring, or in the early season—before Aaron Sanchez got hurt—but you're not wrong that the Jays absolutely could have used a pitcher who could reliably soak up innings, ease up the bullpen's workload, and simply be average. It's precisely why they made a move for a guy like Tom Koehler, traded for perhaps a future Koehler-type in Tom Pannone, and have taken a long look at Brett Anderson. For obvious reasons—few, if any, of them of his own doing—Dickey was a maligned player during his time here. But Jays fans certainly learned better the kind of value he brought this year, when he wasn't around to help raise the floor of the rotation.
Nice to see him having a nice year, though!