As of press time, the Blue Jays have 56 wins and 61 losses. In a column I wrote earlier this year, I predicted the Blue Birds would take a step back this season, due to their lack of improvement in the off-season. This seems to have come true.
Now, the question is, how will or can this situation be fixed? How the Blue Jays’ management handles the August 31st trade deadline and the offseason will be very telling about the future of the franchise.
In my perspective, this team only needs a few changes to return to being a playoff contender. Despite the awful season, fans need to remember this is a team that went all the way to the American League Championship Series, for a second year in a row, just last year. The Jays have also been missing pitcher Aaron Sanchez for part of the season due to blister issues, and shouldn’t expect that to happen to him again next season. The team should also expect an improved season from star Josh Donaldson next year, after the terrible start to the season he had this year.
So what does management need to do? First off, the Jays need to infuse some more young talent into the 2018 roster. The Jays’ core players are all in their 30s and adding youth to the roster will make the Jays faster next year. Not to mention, the team could lose at least one of those players, Jose Bautista, to free agency at the end of the year. Some young players that could slide into the roster include Bo Bichette, Anthony Alford and newly acquired Teoscar Hernandez.
As well, management needs to sign a star starting pitcher. In years past, the Blue Jays had star pitchers such as R.A. Dickey, David Price, and Mark Buehrle and got winning results. Those guys are gone, and management now needs to find another big name to anchor the rotation, while mentoring younger pitchers like Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman. That is, if owner Rogers will allow the team to spend enough to sign such a player.
Lastly, the Jays should look at adding depth to the first baseman position. Beyond Justin Smoak, the Blue Jays have used natural designated hitter Kendrys Morales, and Steve Pearce who has also been used in left field. If the team can add depth to the position, it will free others up to play their more dominant positions, and, if they find the right player, could add some extra hitting power to a roster that could use it if they ultimately lose Bautista.
This team can return to being a contender in 2018, if management actually improves the roster. But, another underwhelming off-season could lead to another disappointing regular season.