With only a few days left until the MLB July 31 Trade Deadline, Ross Atkins and the Toronto Blue Jays management have many decisions to make about the short and long term future of this team.
Unlike last season, the fan base and MLB reporters are talking about which players they will be trading, not which players they will be trading for.
I imagine that Atkins and management will be in active talks with multiple teams to trade Francisco Liriano, Marco Estrada, and Joe Smith. Smith was my favourite off season move, so if he does get traded I will be sad to see him go. He has been very good in the bullpen thus far, and we should be able to get a solid player back for him. Estrada is a good pitcher in the regular season, but has stepped up to the plate over the past two seasons during the post season and has pitched phenomenally in October. Liriano seemed like he was going to be great this season, but things have not gone well. The Kansas City Royals seem to be the main team trying to pursue Liriano, since they are looking for pitching help as they try to advance into a wild card spot before many of their players go into free agency at the end of the season. There have been speculations about J.A. Happ getting traded, but unless the Jays can get something good for him in return, I don't think they will be eager to trade him.
What the Blue Jays need and have lacked for several years is speed and youth, but I'm not going to act as if you did not know that already. Since the Jays are essentially going to be giving other teams rentals (Liriano, Estrada, Smith), they should look for players that will help our team now, or go on a different route and try to acquire bonafide and promising prospects. It would also be beneficial to add another bullpen arm, as the bullpen has done so much work thus far into the season.
Will the sweeping of the Oakland Athletics this past week change the Blue Jays front office trade deadline mentality? Maybe. I've said for this past season that when they look good, they look fantastic. However, when they look bad, they look horrible. But we have to remember that on paper, the Athletics are a worse team than us, so anything other than at least a 3-1 series win would have been bad.
I don't believe the Jays will be going into this trade deadline trying to begin the process of the rebuild, simply because they cannot afford to. The fan base for the Toronto Blue Jays has become massive thanks to two very dramatic playoff runs. We were also the first American League team to reach 2 million tickets sold! By selling players like José Bautista and Josh Donaldson now, that would tell the fan base that they are thinking about the future, and ignoring them. And while that may seem bad, maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea. However, Atkins and Shapiro should formally come out to the fans to explain there thinking before doing something as big as that scenario. In recent interviews, Atkins has said that he will NOT be trading Donaldson, and he wants him to stay a Blue Jay as long as humanely possible.
I do believe that they will be using this trade deadline to plan for the future, as this team will probably not be able to get a lock on a wild card spot come the end of September. They should try and trade for good players who are young and will be controllable for the next several years.
I am very interested to hear what you believe the Toronto Blue Jays front office should do during the 2017 trade deadline. As always, you can tweet me @aalyssacohen, I'd love to hear your thoughts!