DINGERS FROM THE 6IX
To this point in the offseason, the Toronto Blue Jays front office has done little to fill the obvious holes which are present in the current club. The current offseason philosophy has been to hold back on the years and keep all offers to free agents relatively rational. Although this is seemingly a good plan, it has left the Jays with some serious holes, while many of the best options have already signed. The examples are plentiful, whether it was Jose Bautista’s extension saga last spring, or the team’s willingness to move on from Edwin Encarnacion, or the team’s reluctance to give Dexter Fowler a serious contract offer, the team was left plenty of money to spend, but without anyone to give it too. Despite the apparent lack of interest in signing aging players to long-term contracts, I applaud mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins for sticking to their beliefs and not investing their money in aging players just to win next year and support the fan base. Offering long-term contracts can have serious negative consequences towards the end, and the decision to withhold these contracts from these types of players should be worthwhile in the end.
The Blue Jays were right to not sign Dexter Fowler. I know he was loved be almost all Jays fans, who were hopeful that the team would invest in the outfielder to fill one of their corner spots. But the front office refused to give him a serious offer so he signed with the Cardinals. Although most Jays fans were disappointed with the news, though I was mostly neutral with the matter. Sure, he would fill a serious void, but the Cardinals are going to regret giving him a five year deal in the end. It’s almost certain that he will struggle to produce towards the end of his new contract, which restricts the team from signing other players while they are stuck with an expensive, invaluable player on their roster. What does this show? Well it proves that the new front office believes that investing in expensive players usually hurts your team long term, and the front office is unwilling to sacrifice the future in favor of winning a few more games next season. Although many people would argue that winning next year is all that matters, I believe that the long term future of the team is far more important, and I support the front office in not investing their money in aging players.
In addition to this, the team already has several expensive veterans with expensive, long-term contracts such as Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin. We have seen these players struggle at points with the Blue Jays and signing more veterans to long term deals would only increase the number of expensive, declining players on the roster. If the team is desperate enough to offer expensive contracts to free agents, then they are either doing it to save their job or they are doing it to please the fans. But the fans aren’t always right, and I am certain that Shapiro and Atkins’s willingness to do what they believe is right instead of doing what the fans believe is right is going to have supreme benefits, particularly beyond 2017.
Although many Jays fans would argue that the teams primary goal should be to win the championship next season, I believe that the best way of being successful is not by ignoring the future, but by reacting to the present while considering the future. I wanted the team to resign Encarnacion as much as the next guy, but not signing him to a long contract is probably the best move for the Blue Jays when you consider the players they got as alternatives. Granted, there are very few outfielders on the free agent market left who would be worth signing, but there are still options such as Angel Pagan, Mark Trumbo, and Jose Bautista,. There is also the trade market, and obvious options include Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon, Melky Cabrera, or J.D. Martinez. All of these options represent players who do not have long term commitments on their current contracts and would be suitable outfielders on the Blue Jays next season.
All things considered, the front office’s unwillingness to offer long term contracts to free agents may cost the team a win or two next season, but may save them several wins beyond 2017. With expensive players already on the roster, and it is in the team’s best interest to find suitable players without extensive commitments, as doing so will save the team a significant amount long term. In addition, there are available players if the team wants to find less expensive free agents, or is willing to trade. The front office is doing the right thing by not signing players to crazy contracts, and we should thank the front office for keeping the future of the club intact instead of criticizing it for refusing to give into excessive contract demands.