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Why the Blue Jays should retool roster, not rebuild


It is looking more and more like the Blue Jays will be sellers and not buyers at the trade deadline at the end of this month. They are in last place in the AL East and are nine games under .500 (39-48) and eight-and-a-half games out of the third wild-card spot. There are five other teams in front of them fighting for that last spot, so it doesn’t look good. 

This means the Jays should consider trading away some players and restocking their farm system at the deadline. In my mind, the Jays should focus on trading pending free agents Yusei Kikuchi, Danny Jansen, Justin Turner, Kevin Kiermaier, Yimi Garcia and Trevor Richards. As a group, those players are earning $41.65 million this season.

I want to make it clear that being sellers at the deadline isn’t necessarily synonymous with transitioning to a full rebuild. I see the Jays as a team that needs to retool. They have some good players under contractual control for next season and beyond, so I don’t think a rebuild is appropriate.

They have three quality starters coming back next season who are locked up for a few years in Jose Berrios (2028) Kevin Gausman (2026) and Chris Bassett (2025). That is a nice start to an excellent rotation. They also have closer Jordan Romano back next year if he is healthy. If they chose to be sellers, Romano should not throw again this season after his surgery. Save him for next season.

The Jays have Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for at least one more season in 2025 if they don’t sign one or both to an extension. Utility man Isaiah Kiner-Falefa has another year on his deal too, and he has played quite well. The Jays also have catcher Alejandro Kirk for a couple more seasons, as well as outfielder Daulton Varsho

Some of the youngest players on the Jays have made positive impacts and have several more years of control, including Davis Schneider, Ernie Clement, Addison Barger and Spencer Horwitz. I’m anxious to see what Toronto’s No. 5 prospect, Leo Jiminez, can do now that he has been promoted to the big club.

The George Springer contract does feel like a bit of an albatross as he is owed $22.5 million in both 2025 and 2026. The veteran outfielder has declined rapidly, and one would have to assume he has an unmovable contract. But that is not a reason to completely rebuild.

Whether the Jays decide to rebuild or choose to follow my retooling path, there will have to be a level of acceptance that Springer just isn’t what he once was, and relegate him to a much lesser role. He can still have some value as a part-time player, it just won’t match the value of the contract. They can always make a deal to swap Springer in a bad contract-for-bad contract deal and hope to get reclaim the career of another player who might better fit their roster.

If they make one big addition to the middle of their lineup and then the right moves with a few complimentary roles, the Blue Jays can get right back in the playoff mix. They just can’t rely exclusively upon internal improvement ever again.


The future of Bo and Vladdy

A retooling of the Jays roster, as you can see, would include a decision to not trade Bichette or Guerrero.

GM Ross Atkins said back in May that the club hasn’t put any energy in thoughts or discussions to trade the two centrepieces of the team. It doesn’t mean that the front office won’t change their mind. It is their right to do so. What makes me concerned that they might trade one or both is that it seems like the front office hasn’t told the players that they aren’t going anywhere.

As the general manager, if I had made the decision that I wasn’t trading them I would tell both players. It seems pretty clear that they haven’t been told anything, as they keep having to talk about the business of baseball when asked about it (almost every day). Guerrero has been on a hot streak lately and seems to be dealing with the uncertainty better than Bichette. I think they would both take their games to another level if they knew they were staying.

The conflicting messages make me concerned about which uniform the two will be wearing on July 31.


Spitting Seeds

- Guerrero beat out Orioles first baseman Ryan Mountcastle for the starting spot in the All-Star Game. It would have been interesting if the Phase 2 matchup would have been Vlad versus Guardians slugging first baseman Josh Naylor. Naylor hails from Mississauga, Ont., and is one of the main reasons the Cleveland is running away with the AL Central. Guerrero has the better OPS (.844 to .813), but Naylor has 20 homers and 61 RBI, compared to 13 homers and 50 RBI for Guerrero. The Jays’ slugger gets the edge for me, but the vote would have been close.

- The NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers traded for starting pitcher Aaron Civale from the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday. The Rays (44-43) are five games ahead of the Jays in the standings (39-47) and declared themselves a seller. That should be a pretty good indicator for which way the Jays will be going as well.

- Here come the Houston Astros. They have won 12 of their past 14 games and are now just two games behind the Seattle Mariners. They were as many as 10 games behind as late as June 18 but have closed the gap significantly. Houston has done it without slugging outfielder Kyle Tucker, who is still recovering from a bad bone bruise from a foul ball off his shin, and ace Justin Verlander, who has been out with a stiff neck. The starting and relief pitching has dramatically improved, as well as the offence, despite the absences. All-Star designated hitter Yordan Alvarez has a 1.303 OPS  with five home runs in the past 15 days, and starting pitcher Hunter Brown is 5-0 with a 1.05 ERA in his last seven starts. The Astros are playing great, and the reinforcements are coming.

- The Phillies feel like a team of destiny this year. They have the best record in baseball (57-30). You would think that with that record that everything must be going right for them, but the reality is that they keep winning despite key injuries.  They have played at times without left fielder Brandon Marsh, shortstop Trea Turner, starters Taijuan Walker and Spencer Turnbull, multiple relievers, catcher JT Realmuto, designated hitter Kyle Schwarber and first baseman Bryce Harper. Their depth has been tested and responded in winning ways. They should be healthy by the end of July and ready for the final push. 

- Rangers managers Bruce Bochy and Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo will be managing the All-Star Game in Arlington, Texas in a couple of weeks. They will each face tough decisions about who the starting pitchers should be. For the National League, Lovullo will have to choose between three Phillies starters Ranger Suarez (10-2, 2.27), Christopher Sanchez (6-3, 2.41) and Zack Wheeler (9-4, 2.74) and Braves starter Chris Sale (11-3, 2.71). Suarez seems like to pick, but I hope Lovullo gives the nod the Chris Sale. He is an amazing comeback story for Atlanta.

Bochy will have to choose between Royals surprising starter Seth Lugo (11-2, 2.17) and Corbin Burnes (9-3, 2.28) Tarik Skubal of the Detroit Tigers (9-3, 2.45) is on the outside now, but a couple of good starts by him and a clunker by the other two could propel him forward. I would give the start to Burnes. He is the best pitcher on the best team in the American League.