Examining Buster Olney's Report That The Blue Jays Are Ready To Sell

Article Written by Adam Corsair (@ACorsair21)

Well, apparently this is a thing.


More specifically, TSN has brought to our attention a report from Buster Olney that the Blue Jays are ready to take the plunge and become sellers at the trade deadline. Olney stated the the Jays are prepared to take a "hard right-hand turn into retooling or rebuilding."

Olney reports that Marcus Stroman has been scouted by other organizations and would make for an interesting trade piece. The return would allow the Jays to begin to retool the organization to be more competitive for the future, according to Olney. 

Where to begin? First, notice the the report is not suggesting that the Jays are actively shopping Stroman and is being made available for trade. That's not to say that the Jays wouldn't listen to any potential deal involving Stroman - you listen to every and all offers. That's just due diligence. However, from what I gathered from reading and listening to Olney's remarks, there was nothing that led me to believe that Stroman is actively on the trade block. Clubs scouting Stroman with the hopes that he is available at the trade deadline is not the same as the Jays showcasing him and will accept the offer from the highest bidder. I encourage you to not get them confused and recognize the false equivalency.

Olney further offers his opinion that, if he were in the shoes of Atkins and/or Shapiro, he'd absolutely consider moving Stroman to get the pieces needed in order to retool the organization for the future. Specifically, Olney states - 

"The question becomes would the Blue Jays actually move (Stroman)...If I were sitting in their shoes, and you knew you were wanting to make the decision you're going to blow up the team this summer, absolutely you would take a serious look at whatever offer you were to get because the time they would finish some kind of a retooling cycle, Marcus would be getting very close to free agency. So, absolutely you would take a look at it."

It's not that I think Olney doesn't have his reasoning to make such a claim, it's that I don't like the assumptions. Specifically, he assumes that if the Jays were to undergo some sort of rebuild, it would take the exact amount of years Stroman has left on his contract, thereby making him a dispensable commodity. I'm not sure that this is true. 

Moreover, why is Stroman the main source of interest here? I find it hard to believe that teams wouldn't be scouting other talent - like Aaron Sanchez for example. Sure, you could argue that Stroman and Sanchez are much more valued by other clubs due to what they are owed and how many years of control they currently have compared to the rest of the rotation. But that's not to say that the Jays would get next to nothing back if they were to move pieces like Estrada, Happ, and Liriano. I mean, if the Jays are taking this "hard right turn" towards a rebuild, wouldn't everyone be available? 

Don't get me wrong, it wouldn't shock me if the Jays were prepared for some sort of retooling, but suggesting a "hard right turn" would, at least to me, mean a complete blow up. I'm not sure that this is the M.O. of the front office, as they have suggested that their main goal is to remain competitive. That's not to say that they wouldn't sell off expiring contracts in order to get back some youth should the season remain status quo. To me, that's just smart business; you want to get something back for those expiring contracts rather than letting them walk away for nothing, ideally (example: Jason Grilli). 

I'm also not outright suggesting that what Olney is reporting is garbage and we ought to ignore it (I'll leave that to others). I'm just saying that what he is reporting is that Stroman has a lot of trade value and could be someone that the Jays would be wise to move. I encourage you to listen to the audio and notice that he hasn't reported that Stroman is being made available for trade right now. That's not to say that he absolutely won't get traded and the Jays aren't looking to retool in some way. I literally have no idea because I'm not in the room with those that are making these types of decisions. But what I am saying is that it doesn't seem likely that someone with so much control and years left would be a player that the Jays would move, given their attraction to young and controllable assets. 

It's important to really listen and dissect what Olney said regarding a potential rebuild. More specifically (I'll put in bold the important stuff) - 

"It's been interesting because in having conversations with folks with other teams, their perception about where the Blue Jays are, there is an absolute sense in the market-place that if the Blue Jays, um ya know, continue to declare themselves in this way, that uh, Mark Shapiro [and] Ross Atkins absolutely are prepared to make a hard right-hand turn into retooling, rebuilding - whatever you want to call it. Some teams are torn on this sort of question, but the feeling among rival executives is the Blue Jays [are] absolutely prepared to go down that path. And, let's face it, what's gone on here over the last week pushes them in that direction."

To suggest that there is "absolutely" a sense and that Atkins and Shapiro are "absolutely" prepared, there are certainly a lot of "If's" and grey areas within that statement. There can't be an "absolute sense" about the Jays being sellers among rival executives if at the same time "some teams are torn" on the Jays being sellers. This is logically inconsistent. The main thing to really put your stock into is that this report is, basically, built on a "sense" of where the Blue Jays are; a mere "perception" from "folks" with other teams. There's nothing really concrete there. Further, he's not wrong with the suggestion that the string of losses the Jays have been experiencing certainly does push them towards some sort of sense of being sellers at the deadline, sure. But by no means does it suggest a complete rebuild or retool of the organization. To me, that's just hasty reasoning and there's really no evidence, within that statement that suggests a total blow-up.

I mean, I guess we'll see, right? Personally, although Atkins and Shapiro would be wise to listen to every single offer for any player on the Jays roster, I don't see them being eager to sell off their controllable assets. If I were to guess, the aging assets and/or expiring contracts like Bautista, Tulowitzki, Estrada, Happ, Liriano, hell even Morales and Donaldson would be the players they would be actively trying to move should they become sellers at the deadline. Players like Sanchez, Stroman, Biagini, Osuna, Travis, and Pillar would be the ones that the Jays would be very hard-pressed to move. 

Look, I get why this is being discussed. With the Jays 10.5 games out of the Division, 5 games out of the Wild Card, winning only two games out of their last ten, coming off a disastrous loss on Sunday, there's bound to be chatter as to whether or not they will be sellers at the deadline. But trading their young talent? Yeah, I'm not ready to buy into that just yet.

But I've been wrong before.

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