Whether the Blue Jays remain in the hole they’ve dug for themselves or they miraculously climb their way out, change is coming.
The Blue Jays have about 20 games before management needs to make a final decision on whether to double down with this roster or retool/rebuild in some way, shape or form.
They can’t double down on a team that’s seven below .500—it’s just too risky. This roster needs to go on a tear over the next 20 games to prove themselves worthy of management’s trust and owner’s investment.
We’re talking 13 or 14 wins. That’s a .700 win % roughly—not impossible but a real stretch for this group. That would get them to about .500 and ownership has ponied up funds for that caliber of team at the trade deadline before. But with every less win, the pendulum will swing increasingly towards a retooling or rebuilding.
The likelihood is that the Blue Jays will be sellers at the deadline. But there’s no reason to pull the trigger early. At the very least it does no harm to wait and let the next 20 games play out. Management can still have preliminary discussions and test the waters before firmly deciding and showing their cards.
If the Blue Jays are able to pull off a small miracle and get themselves to .500 before the deadline, we won’t be seeing the AA-style deals of 2015. Shapiro and Atkins made it pretty clear what they thought of such prospect auctions. In this scenario, expect to see similar deals to what transpired last year.
If the Jays tread water to the deadline, management will be retooling/rebuilding. Yesterday, Shapiro commented that the Jays would not be typical buyers or sellers at the deadline which is why I’ve stuck in the word, “retooling” so often in this article. Of course Shapiro’s comments could simply be putting a good face on things (preventing mass hysteria and fear of a rebuild among the fanbase).
Supposing the Blue Jays fail to go on a run before the deadline, a true rebuild might be the most prudent course of action from a baseball perspective but from a business and PR perspective it’s very risky. The Jays have built up a huge amount of good will and new fans across Canada over the past few years. The club will be terrified of jeopardizing that with a rebuild.
If it is a rebuild, everything would be on the table and almost every player over 30 should be traded (n.b., Jose Bautista and Troy Tulowitzki must consent to any trade). The Jays have a solid young core, some very exciting prospects and they’d add many more in a teardown.
Aside from winning of course, I imagine this would be Shapiro’s preferred option—a tabula rasa to form in his image. But there’s fickle fans and financials to consider.
If 0 is a full rebuild and 10 is “all-in, sell the farm,” we are probably looking at a 4 but time will tell—specifically the time between now and July 31st.