Sad Jose Bautista

Shred It Up, Then Burn What’s Left: What the Blue Jays Should do at the 2017 Trade Deadline

The Toronto Blue Jays should sell everything they can, as quickly as they can. Period.

While talking to Jays fans, there are a couple arguments that they seem to make for why they must either be buyers or stand pat this trade deadline. They’ll tell you that they don’t want to suffer through millennia of tragedy like either Astros or Cubs fans have, partially because it’s not fun and partially because of a general sense of fear that the fans won’t return. Or they’ll tell you that the Jays are really REALLY close and all we need is a better LOOGY and are a defensive replacement away from winning the second Wild Card slot, technically counting as a playoff team.


The Astros and Cubs were that bad for that long because they didn’t sell when the writing was on the wall. If you take this team – a talented, but aging one – and you add an extra year and a couple of middle relievers, next year you can’t sell and you finish last in the division. However, if you trade these players, you could be stocked with prospects from Buffalo to Dunedin. Houston and Chicago didn’t have the benefit of hitting the reset in a smart, efficient manner.

Look at what the Yankees did last year. Look at what Chicago did in the off-season. They had players, even though they weren’t winning, and they turned those players into practically a quarter of the top hundred prospects in baseball. That is the sentiment that has yet to be considered by the fans arguing for some version of holding and going for it. If we sell, which we should, it will not be a tank. It will be part of a plan that sparks a shorter turnaround; hopefully one where we acquire some young 0-3 players that we can fall in love with in the long run instead of a bunch of grizzled, graying mercenaries that spend more time tying down their disconnected limbs than playing baseball.

Furthermore, if you are trying to sell a rebuild to this city from a marketing perspective, look at what just happened to the Leafs. Here in Toronto, we pretend that the city as a whole cares about the Jays, Raptors, and that weird sport with eleven guys who can’t pick up the ball. And some of us do. But after seasons like 2016-2017, and in a world where Auston Matthews exists, it become increasingly clear that the city is centrally focused on the Maple Leafs. In a press conference announcing the trades, talk about how the Leafs have Marner, and Nylander if you have to. The fans will understand and back it.

As for the next argument. I get that this team has flirted with .500 and had stretches where they look like they’re competitive. I get that it is mostly the same bones that made it to the playoffs in back to back seasons. I get that this team really is talented enough to be an 85 game winner over the course of any given season, but it’s not talented enough to beat the Red Sox, Yankees, Indians, Astros or Dodgers in a playoff series. And that isn’t even counting the fact that most of those guys will be buyers at the deadline. The Blue Jays would have to buy just to keep pace; if they hold they’ll get wrecked and be committed to paying millions of extra dollars, while also failing to¬†benefit from the minor league face-lift a sell would provide.

There are only two realistic options, buy or sell, and they’re not good enough to spend the prospects they have on the sort of players needed to carry the team to the ALCS, let alone the World Series.

To anyone that can hear me, I think that it’s time for our version of a letter writing campaign. Tweet the team that you’re fine with a rebuild, #wellbeback. We’ll be back with shiny new prospects and enough free payroll to scare some other teams to death in the 2019 free agency. Let’s find Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. some teammates and have the Jays come back either next year or the one after as the sort of team that really strikes fear into the hearts of opposing pitchers. They can be the sort of team that makes batters walk up to the plate defeated, and the sort of team that has, I don’t know, maybe one of the top 70 fastest players in the league, and maybe fewer than three of the ten slowest?

If you want to know what the Jays might be able to yield in a such sell-off, here’s a piece that I wrote about just that.

Comment, tweet, and embrace the pain. It’s gonna be worth it in a couple of years.

Lead Photo: Butch Dill USA TODAY Sports

Related Articles

9 comments on “Shred It Up, Then Burn What’s Left: What the Blue Jays Should do at the 2017 Trade Deadline”


I totally agree with you, but I don’t think that Shapiro and Atkins have to courage to do it, or the imagination and ability to make the kinds of trades we need.

Cole Nefsky

Trades are straight forward until they’re not. Getting creative shouldn’t be the goal so much as looking for the largest surplus value. Thanks for the read and the comment.


As a practical matter, how safe is it to assume that Shapiro and Atkins have the mandate to do a full tear-down and rebuild?

Cole Nefsky

It’s safe to assume that the pair of them has the power to do whatever they believe is in the best interest of the team.


Why is it safe to make that assumption?
Rogers have been consistent since they picked up the Jays for a song, they don’t care what the team does n the field-just as they don’t care what the astroturf does to the team- they are interested in short term revenue. When the stadium starts to return to its normal state of semi-emptiness Rogers will insist on cuts to the budget. And the vicious cycle will begin again.
The current problems stem from a complete failure to build on the success of 2015, a refusal to bid enough for free agents, entering the season without a left fielder and with an aging right fielder who ought to be DHing or looking at first base. And with a bull pen of B-list talent.
Actually, things could have gone worse: Smoak has excelled and the bull pen has held its own.
But the smell of mediocrity is everywhere: there is bad morale and an expectation of failure, defence is crumbling and even a pensioned press box is beginning to run out of excuses.
Rogers ought to sell the franchise.
They are simply incapable of running it properly. Back in good hands it will, once again, join the ranks of the best run. most profitable teams from the biggest market with the best fans in MLB.

Cole Nefsky

I think that you are ascribing too little intelligence and too much malevolence to Rogers. They want to see the team in the best shape possible. They also are a board made up of very smart people.
That being said, clearly they don’t want to lose money. The options are not sell and compete later versus keep and compete now. No, the options are sell and compete later versus potentially plunging the team into a decade of darkness. The team is run by smart people, Rogers is operated by smart people, and I expect these smart people to do smart things, just like they’ve done so far.


They have owned the team since Interbrew sold it, almost twenty years ago. Their record is crystal clear. Since Rogers took over the team has been mired in low budget mediocrity. No doubt the people running Rogers are smart and know a lot about running a very peculiar business in a new era of communications- a semi utility and a regulated oligopoly. From the first, when they hired good ol’ boy Paul Godfrey to run the team, it has been an embarrassment to them- they love the SkyDome (who wouldn’t as a prime chunk of real estate?) but the team has been something that they don’t understand.
Worse yet, they interfere, as Paul Beeston could confirm and get in the way.

Cole Nefsky

Sorry I couldn’t put this under your most recent reply, but there’s some sort of mechanic cutting off replies.
What’s small budget about the fifth largest opening day pay-roll, which would be equivalent to ~$230,000,000 in CAD? Do you expect Rogers to bankrupt itself in service to the team? Is back to back trips to the ALCS something that fans should no longer pay attention to? The team had not made the playoffs in my life until 2015, and before then I would’ve given my left leg to see the team get swept in the ALDS. Rogers is the owner that did that. Their problem before was that they made bad decisions and lost tons of money. Now they’re making good decisions and losing less, so they raised the payroll.
My question for you: What is the number of dollars that you think Rogers should lose by owning the team to make them acceptable owners?


Nope. Good Steve Simmons impersonation though.

Leave a comment

Use your Baseball Prospectus username