Time has come for Jays to sell off vets, go younger
That was the sanitized but rather succinct summation of Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons after his team’s latest loss, a 1-0 walk-off to the Tampa Bay Rays Wednesday.
The Jays are 1-5 at Tropicana Field this season and 4-11 in their past 15.
It was the fourth time in nine games the Jays (30-38) have had five hits or less and they were a miserable 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position on Wednesday.
“We had some chances, especially early on, but couldn’t get a big hit. We’re horsebleep down here. I have no explanation for it, that’s just the way it is,” Gibbons said.
It has come to that point of the season where Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins has to assess his club.
Fortunately (or unfortunately), the American League standings are making that considerably easier: The For Sale sign is at the ready.
“At this point we have to consider all of our alternatives,” Atkins said.
“We would have to play at a very good clip to get back in contention, but we don’t want to eliminate that possibility.
“So ... we have to consider what our alternatives are on the buy front, on the sell front, on the money swap front, or any possible scenario to make our team better. That’s what we’re in the process of doing.”
Rest assured, the process is already well underway and several players with expiring contracts will be on the market.
At the top of the list will be lefty J.A. Happ, who pitched five innings of one-hit shutout ball against the Rays on Wednesday. Happ is in hot demand with the New York Yankees and Philadelphia among those interested.
The big lefty could certainly attract more than what Francisco Liriano brought from Houston at last year’s deadline: productive outfielder Teoscar Hernandez.
Who knows what value Josh Donaldson will have by the July 31 deadline, but if the offer is right he’ll likely be available.
The Jays are in a favourable position to get considerably younger in a hurry.
With several players coming off the books (including outfielders Curtis Granderson and Steve Pearce, plus almost half the bullpen), the promotion of young talent can, and likely will be, expedited.
“If we are in a situation where we are going to be selling, then we’re going to make our team better. We’ve got a pretty good core to try to build around,” Atkins said.
There has certainly been some accelerated signs of high-end development in the system. At Double-A New Hampshire, Vlad Guerrero Jr. (now injured), Cavan Biggio and Bo Bichette are all having huge seasons. At Triple-A Buffalo, starting pitchers Sean Reid-Foley and Ryan Borucki are turning heads.
“There are a number of guys who’ve made significant strides,” Atkins said. “There are a number of pieces in place.”