Now that the dust has settled from a second consecutive successful yet unsuccessful Blue Jays season, it’s clear there’s work to do by the front office to keep this team competitive in the current window of opportunity, which extends through 2018.
There seems to be consensus about what needs to be done to get this team over the hump. Re-signing Edwin Encarnacion if possible. A more left-handed lineup. Upgrades at the corner outfield spots. Become more athletic. But it’ll be impossible to do all of these things through free agency. The trade option will most likely be exercised, but we all know the team is shy on prospects after going all in last season. It’s likely players would be dealt off the current roster.
To me…and I realize I’m not the first to state this…but Marcus Stroman would seem to be the most attractive candidate to any potential Blue Jays trade partners. While names like Kendrys Morales, Carlos Beltran and yes, Joey Votto have been mentioned, I’d like to throw another one out there that hasn’t been mentioned: Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez. And it’s a deal that would make sense for both teams.
He’s left-handed. He plays right field. His career OPS is .868, and he’s only a year removed from a 40-homer season. Granted, he’s 31, but for a win now team, that’s fine in my estimation. Why would Colorado even consider this deal? Stroman had the best ground ball percentage in the majors this season, and we all know how the ball flies out of Coors Field at altitude. Stroman is exactly the kind of starter the Rockies need for the future.
The down side: Gonzalez strikes out a lot, 129 times in 2016. Also, he is a free agent after 2017, and is owed $20 million this season. But hey, the Jays made a $17 million qualifying offer to Jose Bautista, so they were obviously prepared to pony up even in the unlikely event he accepted (reports say Bautista will soon formally reject the offer and go to free agency).
Gonzalez is just another name I think the Blue Jays should be considering among many. Obviously other pieces would have to be included to make what I’m suggesting make sense for both teams. Regardless, given the job Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins did this year to get the Jays to the post-season (and oh yeah, the team they essentially built in Cleveland that’s a win away from a World championship), fans should have confidence the perceived needs to this club will be addressed adequately in the offseason.
Leafs: To deal for D, or not to deal for D
Moves by the #Leafs last week set off speculation something greater might be afoot. Milan Michalek was waived and Ben Smith claimed from Colorado in cap relief moves that made me and others wonder if a trade was on the horizon to bolster the team’s subpar defence. The #Leafs have been said to have had interest in the Ducks Cam Fowler for sometime, along with the Blues Kevin Shattenkirk and the Jets holdout Jacob Trouba.
I only see 3 current Leafs D men potentially being part of any long term success (Rielly Carrick Zaitsev)…adding a Fowler Shattenkirk or Trouba now will help but not be an instant cure especially with Frederik Andersen struggling in goal. But after the recent collapses and the young core looking closer to being competitive than expected, Leafs brass may be ready to deal prospects to add a backend piece sooner rather than later.
I subscribe to the notion that with better goaltending and maybe another back end piece, this talented group of youngsters could compete sooner than many expected. It will be interesting to see just how quickly Leafs brass will make a move in this direction.
Great to see TFC finally living up to billing and reaching the final 8 in MLS soccer…they have potential to do some damage. Also good to see the Raptors give the Cavs a run for their money Friday night in a 94-91 loss. It’s just a reminder for LeBron and Co. that the Raps are still right there nipping at their heels.