Word of the Giancarlo Stanton trade to the Yankees early today spread as fast as the cloud of perceived doom among fans of their AL East rivals. It’s clear the Bronx Bombers are reloading now. They’ll add free agent Manny Machado in all likelihood next year (or maybe sooner depending on how 2018 plays out). The move must have the Blue Jays front office taking a renewed hard look at where this franchise is at.
Stanton was dealt because Miami has new ownership and is looking to strip payroll and presumably begin a Cubs-style multi-year rebuild. With news this week of Rogers telegraphing its openness to sell (and make no mistake, it was done to signal intent and elicit potential buyers), you have to wonder if what we’re seeing in Miami right now may not be too far down the road in Toronto’s future.
The timing for a Cubs-style rebuild may not be better for the Blue Jays, starting in 2019. With the Yankees prepared to open the vault again to supplement their young powerhouse base of talent, and the Red Sox likely to try to match, it is going to be very tough sledding in the AL East for the next several years. The Jays and others may be fighting for the 2nd wild card at best. With Shapiro and Atkins, you have a management team in place that has the experience to strip a roster down and successfully rebuild (Cleveland’s been ok the last couple years I think). And if it is Rogers intent to sell, the Miami model is certainly one new ownership could conceivably follow.
Baseball’s winter meetings this week I believe will give us a good idea of what management and ownership are thinking. With the futures of Stanton and Japanese phenom Shohei Otani now settled, many top remaining free agents will likely get signed this week. Who the Blue Jays sign and the length of those contracts will be telling. Will they add top calibre free agents like Lorenzo Cain, Jay Bruce or Alex Cobb and take another shot at competing in 2018? Or will they opt for second-tier options at shorter terms (Steve Pearce immediately comes to mind)? We may have an idea in just a matter of days not only what 2018 for the Blue Jays will look like, but the longer term as well.