With the offseason slowly winding down and the Toronto Blue Jays prepared to head into spring training in the not so distant future, I am here to tell you why I believe Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins have done a great job this offseason.
Following last season’s disappointing 73-89 record, it’s not difficult to see why the fan base frustration level is starting to hit a high and its always easy to blame Blue Jays President Mark Shapiro and General Manager Ross Atkins. But let’s take a closer look at some of the “Disappointments” that stemmed from last season and what Shapiro and Atkins have done this offseason to correct the good ship Blue Jays.
Troy Tulowitzki Injury and release
When former General Manager Alex Anthopoulos made the trade on July 28th, 2015 sending Jesus Tinoco, Miguel Castro, Jeff Hoffman and Jose Reyes for Troy Tulowitzki and LaTroy Hawkins, it was easy to start to believe that we received the huge upgrade the team needed. Hawkins was a reliable reliever and Troy Tulowitzki was a two-time Silver Slugger and two-time Gold Glove winner. The upgrade was worth the price, even though the Blue Jays would be taking on the remainder of Tulowitzki’s huge contract.
Unfortunately for the Blue Jays, Troy Tulowitzki did not work out the way that the team had hoped, and the injury bug had taken its latest hostage. Troy Tulowitzki would play in 131 games in 2016, a dismal 66 games in 2017 and a big fat juicy 0 in 2018.
Fast forward to 2019 and the Blue Jays had to come to a tough decision, see if Tulowitzki can play this year or buy him out to allow the youth movement to come full circle and gain experience. Wisely, Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins came to a mutual agreement and released Troy Tulowitzki from his contract.
Definitely, a bitter pill to swallow seeing especially since he signed with those damn Yankee’s, but a smart move none the less if this team wants to move forward and build a contender.
Blue Jays acquire Julian Merryweather in exchange for Josh Donaldson
Ok, even the headline makes me cringe, but hear me out on why this might work out for the Blue Jays in the long run. Let’s face it, yes, the Blue Jays should have traded Josh Donaldson in the offseason, the value would have been much higher, but the Blue Jays really thought they had a chance to compete for at least a wild-card spot. But wow did that go south fast when Donaldson went down with his injury.
Josh Donaldson meant the world to this franchise for the short time he was here. Winning the AL MVP, the Hank Aaron Award and the Major League Player of the Year award in 2015. Josh Donaldson was gold, he was the bringer of rain, but the key word here is was.
After Donaldson missed most of 2018, the Blue Jays decided not to renegotiate his contract and traded him for a player to be named later to the Cleveland Indians. In 16 games with the Indians, Josh Donaldson batted .280 with 3 home runs and 7 RBI’s.
Definitely not horrible numbers for someone that missed the majority of the regular season, but now, let’s look at his postseason stats. In 3 playoff games, Donaldson batted a .091 with no home runs or RBI’s. Cleveland has since let him walk away as a free agent.
Josh Donaldson has now reunited with Alex Anthopoulos with the Atlanta Braves for a 1-year 23 million. The Blue Jays by trading Josh Donaldson will allow Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to start his MLB career in his natural position at third base, whenever that might be.
Julian Merryweather in each of the levels he has played has shown decent signs of progress. Unfortunately, Merryweather missed all of 2018 due to injury and needing Tommy John surgery. Both Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins are confident that Merryweather will bounce back.
For more on Merryweather please see this great piece on his road to the Majors here.
To be continued…