In order to truly address what the Toronto Blue Jays need to do to have a successful trade deadline, a working definition of success must be first be established. Although success can mean different things to different people, it is generally defined as achieving one’s goals.
For a sports team, success may be described as increased fan pleasure, more wins over the course of the season or more wins in the playoffs depending on the situation. The Blue Jays need to set realistic goals in order to deem their endeavors a success. Even the most realistic of baseball fans understands that expecting to win the World Series every year is a preposterous claim.
For the purposes of this article, success can be defined as improving the Blue Jays current roster without sacrificing the future of the organization. A tough task indeed but general manager Alex Anthopolous has had a track record of doing just that. He saved the organization almost $80 million (all figures U.S.) by trading struggling outfielder Vernon Wells to the Los Angeles Angels. He also traded for a struggling Colby Rasmus only to see him flourish this season in a Blue Jays uniform.
Here are five things Anthopolous needs to do to have a successful trade deadline.
Buy. Buy. Buy.
Every year Toronto sports teams get to the trade deadline out of a playoff spot and without explicitly saying it, they give up. They trade players with expiring contracts, they stock up on draft picks and they acquire young players. These are all fine practices for a rebuilding team, but they never make a run for it.
Well this is the year. If Anthopolous can show that he is making an effort to put the best baseball team on the field that he can right now and not playing for two or three years down the road then the trade deadline will be a success.
The Blue Jays may still not make the playoffs in such a tough division but if the fans see that the team is doing their best to put a quality product on the field, they will respond favorably. They will pack the stadium, the city will be talking about the Blue Jays and it will create a number of Blue Jays fans for years to come.
It’s no secret that the Blue Jays are on the hunt for a pitcher. They are so depleted at the position that they have had to look at their Double-A team for call-ups. There are a number of pitchers the Blue Jays could pursue, but for a trade to be deemed a success it must pan-out on the field.
Alex Anthopolous has been known to inquire about the price and availability of most big name trade pieces on the market, so nothing is out of the question with him. If he finds a pitcher for the right price, don’t be surprised to see him pull the trigger to help his rotation.
In order to be successful, any trade the Blue Jays make will need to work out on the field, but cannot mar the strong prospect system that Anthopolous has built.
There are a number of fringe prospects in the Blue Jays organization like Travis Snider and Eric Thames or prospects a number of years away like Aaron Sanchez that Anthopolous could dangle in order to make a deal.
That being said, there are also some names within the organization that should be untouchable. Travis D’Arnaud, save for a PCL injury earlier this year, looks to be the catcher of the future. Anthony Gose, recently called up to replace an injured Jose Bautista should be manning a portion of the outfield by next year and Adeiny Hechavarria is the shortstop of the future.
Needless to say, Anthopolous has his own ideas about where these specific players will fit in the organization but it is crucial that he does not impair the future of the franchise for an outside shot at making the playoffs this year.
You probably read that and thought, “Come on, they have bigger problems to address than that!” Well, you’re right. The Blue Jays offense is near the top of the league in home runs and runs scored and doesn’t need a lot of help, unlike their pitching but bare with me here.
Looking at the three division leaders in the AL, they all use a designated hitter that are either versatile in the field or a down right nightmare for opposing pitchers at the plate. The Blue Jays don’t have that. They either roll out Edwin Encarnacion—a legitimate DH batting .296 with 25 HRs—or Adam Lind and his .233 batting average. Having Encarnacion at first is an upgrade defensively but that means the DH spot suffers.
The Yankees have Eric Chavez who can play both corners of the infield and bats .284. The Chicago White Sox have the MLBs co-leader in home runs, Adam Dunn, while the Texas Rangers have both sides of the equation in David Murphy who’s batting .279 and has an OPS of .835 and Michael Young who can play all the bases and still hits .272.
It’s a proven system that would be worth it for the Blue Jays to consider. Getting a DH would also make Lind or Encarnacion expendable to try and get a pitcher.
Sometimes no move is the best move. If nothing becomes available for Anthopolous then he should sit tight and see how this version of the Blue Jays does.
Buying is priority number one. Getting a pitcher and a DH while saving the minors are also important, but if any of these are going to hinder the development of the team then Anthopolous is best to just sit back. It would be a huge gaffe to feel pressure and make a move just to make a move if the price isn’t right.
Anthopolous has a track record that should afford him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to making a bone-headed trade. In my opinion Anthopolous is going to look hard to buy an improved team for the stretch run, but don’t be surprised if he comes up empty. He’s a good GM who understands the value of players and won’t overpay.
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