Cleat Geeks

Toronto’s Turnaround Through Trades

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Toronto General Manager Alex Anthopoulos .

In a recent interview Toronto General Manager Alex Anthopoulos said, “We just felt, by the time our young prospects got here, the Bautistas and the Encarnacions and those guys, there’s a change their contracts would be up and we’re looking at a new core of players. So a big part of that was timing, and a big part of that we acquired, knowing they’d be under contract for a while. It wasn’t going to be a one year run.”

Who are the “they” the GM is referring too? “They” would be shortstop Jose Reyes, who when acquired had 5 years left on his contract, Mark Buehrie who had 3 years remaining and after negotiating a contract extension with starter R.A.Dickey, Toronto knew they had these core 3 players until 2015. This was the first part of the plan, it began in 2012.

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher R.A. Dickey, right, shakes hands with Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin, left, after pitching in the bullpen during baseball spring training in Dunedin, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/the Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher R.A. Dickey, right, shakes hands with Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin.

In 2013 the plan got derailed, three-fifths of the rotation missed the majority of the season and Reyes had a significant ankle injury. Despite all the injuries, the Blue Jays still finished a respectable 83-79. But respectable does not get you into the play-offs.

Which brings us to this off-season where the Blue Jays once again made moves that strengthened their roster, yet increased their payroll. They traded for 3rd baseman Josh Donaldson and signed catcher and Canadian born Russell Martin to a 5 year $82 million dollar contract. But, Martin is somewhat of an anomaly. In his 9 major league seasons, his team has been to the play-offs 7 times. Yet, he has never played a game in September.

But, in order to get that talent, Anthopoulos had to also give up some young talent. On November 19th 2012 the Toronto Blue Jays traded Henderson Alvarez, Anthony DeSclafani, Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, Jeff Mathis, Jake Marisnick and Justin Nicolino to the Miami Marlins for Emilio Bonifacio, John Buck, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Jose Retes and cash.

They also traded away Noah Syndergaard and catcher Travis d’Arnaud. But in loosing all that cheaper, younger talent, it makes me wonder if the Jay’s didn’t loose. They are currently 48-47, second place in the American League East. Overall they are 4.5 games out of 1st place and 3 games out of the 2nd Wild Card spot. According to Spotrac.com the Blue Jays have a total payroll of $126,252,261 which has them currently ranked 10 in MLB. Consequently, if you break their payroll dollars down into position groups; infield, outfield, DH, pitching, and dead money, they spend the biggest portion of their total dollars $41,873,963 on pitching, yet that is where the team lacks.

If we look at the Jay’s of today we do see some things we like. They actually rattled off 11 consecutive wins. However, they won 11 consecutive games in 2013 too, and finished last in the division. They scored an impressive 88 runs in those 11 games. They have scored that many runs in that many games in 3 other seasons. Failing to make the play-offs in all three of those seasons.

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Toronto Blue Jays’ Chris Colabello gets a Powerade shower from teammates Kevin Pillar, left, and Russell Martin.

So, it begs the obvious question. Is 2015 going to be any different for a Jay’s team that has finished double-digit games out of 1st place every year for over a decade now? The Blue Jay’s do have a fierce line-up with a healthy Reyes leading off followed by Donaldson, Bautista and Encarnacion. All three of them have spent time in the top 10 home run list with Martin next and he also has double-digit home runs. Next is Chris Colabello and although he may not have the name, but what he does have is a higher batting average than any of the afore mentioned batting ahead of him.

They need help in the pen as well as in the rotation. It was announced after their win on Sunday that when Aaron Sanchez comes back off the DL he will go to the bullpen. That may take care of some of the bullpen issues, but that will also mean that they will go with Felix Doubront and his 4.50 ERA as the 5th starter. But, how much more are they willing to spend, and how many more prospects are they willing to give up for a team whose window is closing fast and starting to show some cracks?

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