The Toronto Blue Jays began this season with no intention of adding high-priced players throughout the season. In fact, management chose not to sign any players to major league contracts (The only team to do so), while bringing in several cheap options to join the young core. On top of that, JP Ricciardi warned fans that 2009 would be a transition year, while the majority of experts believed it would be a rough ride for the Blue Jays. Now, with Toronto sitting at 29-24, management is apparently more open to dealing for some help.
From bluejays.com’s Jordan Bastian:
“Toronto has enjoyed a much stronger start than anticipated, and that could play a role in how the organization approaches the July 31 Trade Deadline.
If the Jays are still within striking distance of the top spot in the American League East through June and into July, general manager J.P. Ricciardi may find that interim president Paul Beeston is more open-minded about adding to the roster.”
“Our pitching hasn’t been our problem,” Ricciardi said. “Maybe one more bat, one more thumper in the lineup.”
This is fairly exciting news for fans of the team, because, like it or not, the current roster is still probably not good enough to beat out New York and Boston. Yes, the lineup has been great, but it’s low on depth, and it’s been exposed during the recent losing skid. The question is whether management would play out the season, and reload for next year (when Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowan return), or would they try to add a player to make a run. Personally, I had no expectations for any sort of major move, although JP’s comments about payroll flexibility certainly open the door:
“As things currently stand, the Blue Jays’ payroll is around $83 million, and Ricciardi has indicated that there is little flexibility. On Sunday, Ricciardi said that could change, but it will depend on ownership.
“It all depends on who’s available,” Ricciardi said. “If I went to [Beeston] and said, ‘Hey, this guy is making $10 million. Can we get him?’, he may say we can’t spend $10 million. He might say, ‘We can spend this,’ but he might say go get the guy. I don’t know. Obviously, the situation has to dictate who’s available.
“All indications I have is that we’d have no trouble adding, if we’re in a situation to get somebody.”
As it stands now, there are specific players who figure to be available at the deadline. Matt Holliday comes to mind, as he finishes the final year of his contract in Oakland. The A’s are not contenders, and they don’t figure to join the race, so the former Colorado slugger could be somebody for Toronto to target. At a lower level, the Jays might be interested in the versatile Mark DeRosa, since Cleveland has made no secret that they will probably trade him. Really, though, any deadline deal will come down to two things.
1. Do the Jays really want to trade prospects, to improve this season? In my mind, Toronto shouldn’t sacrifice any of the team’s bright future (and yes, there actually is a bright future right now), and that means holding their good young players until at least next year.
2. Will one big trade actually make Toronto a legitimate title contender? For the Jays to consider acquiring, say, Holliday, Ricciardi will need to be confident that it’s actually enough. Every year, there is at least one team believing they are closer to winning a title than they actually are. That team ends up parting with prospects, while falling short. I’m all for a big trade if JP truly believes the Jays will contend, but otherwise, he should hold off.
I know many fans (myself included) would be thrilled to add a star, and for the team to make a run this year. Still, it might not be the right move just yet.
Comments? Trade suggestions? Let’s hear em.
Bastian is here.