Article Written by Adam Corsair (@ACorsair21)
Much to our dismay, instead of discussing what pieces the Blue Jays need to solidify a post-season spot for the 2017 season, we are discussing what pieces the team should move in order to both A) strengthen the farm system and B) compete for the 2018 season. After being swept by Cleveland in a fashion that can only be described as devastating, morale was at an extreme low amongst the fanbase of the Jays, with many people chirping on Twitter for a complete tear down of the team. Such statements are easy to scroll pass and ignore, because I assume that this is just an impulsive sentiment as a result of a terrible weekend for the team. But the suggestion of tearing down the whole club and calling for the front office to trade almost every player on the team has become so frequent that I'm beginning to believe that people may actually think that they want this and it's in the best interest of the organization to do so.
What such individuals fail to realize is that a complete rebuild in the game of baseball is such a long and tedious process that requires an enormous amount of both faith and patience. They, I think, liken the process to a rebuild for an NHL or NBA team. It's much much different. Moreover, the process is often times deflating and will test an individual's loyalty towards the team that they claim to stand behind. In short, it's not fun and if you can't bear to see this team lose as regularly as they have been, then there's hardly a chance that you'll be able to withstand a complete and utter tear down for the sake of a rebuilding of the organization. Not a chance. If you think 2017 is bad, you don't want to see the 2018, 2019, or maybe even 2020 Jays during a rebuild. Trust me on this.
I get it, though. Most of the people that are calling for this may be new-comers on the Blue Jays bandwagon. There's nothing wrong with this as the more fans that represent the Jays will lend more of a reason for ownership to fund the team as much as they have. This is especially important and something that should be kept in mind. The Jays have become so intertwined with the city to the point where it's eclipsed just a mere representation of an individual's love for the team. The logo alone has become a part of Toronto and the organization would be foolish to halt the momentum that began - in a way - in 2013 and really catapulted in 2015. Thus, I'd like to focus on why a complete rebuild wouldn't make much business sense before getting into why you - as a fan - wouldn't want one, either.
It's important to understand that even though to baseball fans such as ourselves they are extremely valuable and sentimental, the Blue Jays are a small piece of a very large business pie for Rogers. As sad of a realization as this may be, ownership, of course, wants this piece to be as lucrative and successful as possible. They have seen what kind of revenue can be generated if the team remains relevant, despite it being unrelated to the other business ventures that they pursue. The aforementioned boom in popularity that the Jays have generated isn't blind to Rogers and they certainly want to maintain it. Why wouldn't they? It makes no sense for them to own anything and generate little to nothing, or even just break even, regardless of how small the piece of the pie it is. With attendance, television ratings, merchandise sales, and chatter surrounding the direction of the team (yes, even if it's negative. It's better than silence), undergoing a complete tear down would more or less eradicate all of this, leaving Rogers in a position of forfeiting the enormous potential and - let's face it - cash cow that the Blue Jays have shown to be. It makes more sense for them to keep the wheel spinning and either legitimately go all-in or at least do just enough to contend year-in and year-out.
The aspect of doing just enough to contend is interesting because it offers the Jays the best of both worlds: It'll keep interest amongst the fanbase which will lead to the team to continue generating revenue, keeping ownership happy. Don't get me wrong, I think that they will always try to put together a competitive team, but there's a fine line of making a legitimate push for the post-season and putting together a team that you can see going either way. I think that the powers-that-be will lean more towards the latter for a few reasons. For starters, the Jays don't have a good track record of being able to sign the high-priced big name free agents that are still well within their prime years. Other than maybe Russell Martin, I can't think of a big name free agent in recent history that they were able to sign to a lucrative deal. Second, if they were to make a legitimate all-in push to acquire superstars from other teams via trade, it would involve the front office to forfeit a lot of the prospects that we are looking forward to in the coming years. Players like Rowdy Tellez, Bo Bichette, Vlad Jr., Sean Reid-Foley, Conner Greene, Anthony Alford, and Lourdes Gurriel would more than likely be shopped, which is something that Atkins and Shapiro are highly unlikely to do (I hope). Thus, putting together a team that is somewhere in the middle that we can evaluate and conclude have a legitimate shot of making the post-season makes the most sense for all parties involved. It keeps the Jays relevant in a baseball sense, it keeps fans interested which will lead to the continuation of cash flowing in. Everyone's happy.
But it's not just about ownership and what makes business sense. As I mentioned and as the title suggests, you - the fan - really don't want a complete rebuild, despite how much you call for it. Again, I'll give the benefit of the doubt to those that claim that this is what they want and assume that they don't understand what a rebuild actually means. It may be difficult to understand because the last two years have been such anomalies for this franchise that new comers may not know what life was like before 2015 as a Jays fan. In short, it wasn't pretty. The beginning stages of the Alex Anthopoulos era began with what could be described as a complete rebuild, as the only bright spot (at the time) for the Blue Jays - Roy Halladay - was traded away, kick-starting the call to build the farm for the future. At that point, there wasn't really much to look forward to over the next few season as we knew that the Jays more than likely wouldn't compete for a post-season spot. All that was left to draw you to watch the games was the loyalty towards the Jays and/or the love of the game itself. Call me crazy, but I consider it a lot more fun to watch a team that we can reasonably conclude has a legitimate shot at making the post-season than one that we assume, and can reasonably conclude, won't (I mean, sometimes you just know). The former is exactly what the front office is working on for the 2018 season.
Don't get me wrong, I realize that there are times when it's appropriate for a team to undergo a complete and utter rebuild, but right now just isn't one of those times. With players such as Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin, Troy Tulowitzki, Steve Pearce, Kendrys Morales, Justin Smoak, JA Happ, Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, and Roberto Osuna still being contributors for the 2018 season (as of this writing), there's a whole lot to look forward to and offers fans some incentive to visit the ball park. When you call for Atkins and Shapiro to trade away players like this in order to "build the farm," you ignore the fact that there has to be bodies on the field for the Jays in the mean time. Moreover, you may be overvaluing what you would get in return when trading away ::insert player here:::. The truth is, if the recent trades by other clubs have shown anything, it's that it's currently a buyers-market and it may be in the best interest of the Blue Jays to either get a maximum return when trading away players or wait until the off-season to make any serious moves. If a trade proposal is one that would be stupid to turn down, then by all means. But given where the market, there's no reason to believe that something like that would be presented to Atkins and/or Shapiro.
So when you start to think "REBUILD! SELL OFF THE ENTIRE TEAM!" anytime the Jays lose, just know what that will mean not just for the rest of this season but for seasons to come. A rebuild isn't just a quick hiccup in the world of baseball, it's a process that a lot of people just won't have the patience for. It doesn't make sense for you and it doesn't make sense for the suits that make the decisions. Believe me when I tell you, you don't want this.
At least, not now.
Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter (@SouthOfThe6ix)