The 2015 season for the Toronto Blue Jays was unforgettable. The Blue Jays ended the longest playoff drought in baseball with the most dangerous line up in Major League Baseball. The team was 50-51 on July 28th and they finished the season with a record of 93-69. The Blue Jays went on to defeat the Texas Rangers in an emotional five-game American League Division Series before losing to the Kansas City Royals in six games of the American League Championship Series, who went on to beat the New York Mets in the World Series.
With the offseason already underway, the Blue Jays must carefully look at how they will shape their team for 2016. Some changes have been made in the front office and the Blue Jays are looking to add key improvements to its pitching rotation in hopes of defending their first American League East division title since 1993.
This time last year, the Toronto Blue Jays made some offseason moves by signing Canadian catcher and local Toronto boy, Russel Martin, acquiring the newly named AL MVP Josh Donaldson, and Marco Estrada who had a career year with the club. Now in the present, Alex Anthopolous (thank you for doing something we haven’t seen in 22 years) and Paul Beeston are gone, in comes former Clevland Indians executive Mark Shpairo and interim General Manager Tony La Cava, who is also the Vice President of baseball operations. Both gentleman took over these positions on November 4th and we know more about them now than we did before.
La Cava came into the Blue Jays organization as an assistant to the General Manager of former GM J.P. Riccardi back in 2002 eventually becoming the Assistant General Manager to Alex Anthopolous in 2009. When Shapiro had his introductory press conference earlier this month, this is what we know from the newly named president. The Blue Jays were known for the infamous “five-year policy”. Well, with Shapiro now running the organization, it sounds like the “five-year policy” has been abolished. Shapiro wants to add more depth to the farm system, which is understandable, but not at the expense of trading away major league level players.
Manager John Gibbons will have his entire coaching staff back after they all reached agreements with the Blue Jays on contracts for the 2016 season. It marks the return of bench coach DeMarlo Hale, pitching coach Pete Walker, hitting coach Brook Jacoby, assistant hitting coach Eric Owens, first base coach Tim Leiper, third base coach Luis Rivera and bullpen coach Dane Johnson.
With changes behind the front office of the team and regardless what the team does, they will have lots of options to choose from when it comes acquiring assets that will help improve the team, specifically towards pitching.
The implications of the Blue Jays in 2016 is that it would take their budget to almost $135 million. This gives them room to make some additional changes to their roster. Shapiro brought back right-handed pitcher Marco Estrada to a two-year, $26 million contract, and traded Liam Hendricks to the Oakland Athletics for righty Jesse Chavez. Shapiro continued to make moves as he signed former Blue Jay J.A. Happ to a three-year, $36 million contract. All part of the team’s plan to improve the team’s pitching depth.
These moves clearly indicate that Toronto will NOT be bringing back David Price. The projected rotation as of right now currently consists of; Marcus Stroman, R.A. Dickey, Marco Estrada, J.A. Happ, and Jesse Chavez. Drew Hutchinson is also an option but his pitching on the road away from the six is an issue that needs to be addressed.
They could look to trade a player to continue to accommodate their needs for pitching. The team has plenty of options and management must make the right choices for what is best for this team moving forward.The Blue Jays are in a “must win mode” which will make decisions challenging for management.
All other position players will return including rookie second baseman Devon Travis. He was on a hot streak until a shoulder injury sidelined him for most of the season, which resulted in surgery for Travis and is expected to be at Spring Training. One big possibility is adding a left-handed bat, or two, to help balanced the right-handed power of Bautista, Encanrnacion and newly reigned MVP, Josh Donaldson.
With only a few opening spots left on the roster to fill, the Blue Jays will be exciting to watch in 2016. They will have one of the best offensive lineups in the game with hopes of defending its American League East Division title and perhaps reclaiming the World Series since 1993.
How the Blue Jays handle their offseason might tell us the long-term vision of Mark Shapiro than anything else.