TORONTO -- The Blue Jays spent the past two years clinging to the past. Now, they're embracing the future.Toronto starts 2019 with a bit of a clean slate. The days of adding patchwork solutions to an aging roster are over, and instead, the organization is laying a foundation for the
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays spent the past two years clinging to the past. Now, they're embracing the future.
Toronto starts 2019 with a bit of a clean slate. The days of adding patchwork solutions to an aging roster are over, and instead, the organization is laying a foundation for the future. There might be some short-term pain, but the expectation is that it will lead to long-term gains.
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So what's the vision for the Blue Jays? Well it's to stay on course, develop the young players in their system and begin the process of easing these prospects into the Major Leagues. Toronto wants to remain competitive, but this season's success will not come down to wins and losses, but rather overall player development.
Here's a look at what the Blue Jays are trying to accomplish this year:
Out with the old, in with the new
One era of Blue Jays baseball has been ushered out and another one is set to begin. Josh Donaldson, J.A. Happ, Marco Estrada, Roberto Osuna and Aaron Loup were among the remaining remnants of the 2016 American League Championship Series team who have left the organization. In their spots are younger players just beginning their careers. Danny Jansen, Ryan Borucki and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. have arrived. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Cavan Biggio won't be too far behind, and before too long, all eyes will be on Bo Bichette. This year is all about the kids.
Who stays, who goes?
Not all of these young players are going to pan out, and some tough decisions will have to be made along the way. Toronto will use this year to determine whether Teoscar Hernández's defense can be salvaged in left field. The season will provide definitive answers on whether Sean Reid-Foley, Thomas Pannone, Trent Thornton and Julian Merryweather are viable Major League arms. Jansen appears destined to become a No. 1 catcher for years to come. In six months, the Blue Jays will have a much better idea of how realistic that really is.
Follow the Rays
Tampa Bay entered last season as an afterthought and still won 90 games. The Rays accomplished that by thinking outside the box with unusual defensive shifts, the opener strategy of using a reliever to start games, unique platoons and a lot more. New Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo was a big part of those decisions, and he'll undoubtedly bring some of the strategies with him to Toronto. In the clubhouse, this group isn't talking about rebuilding, but how to maximize its victories. The Blue Jays don't have to look very far for motivation. This team will embrace thinking outside the box, similar to that club down south.
Call me Vladdy
Guerrero isn't just the Blue Jays' No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline, he's the best in MLB and arguably the best prospect in franchise history. He's being billed as a Hall of Famer in the making. MLB Pipeline's Jim Callis debated whether Guerrero is the best prospect in Major League history. The hype is real, and sometime soon his talents will be on display at the Major League level. Guerrero, more than anyone else, will give people a reason to tune into Blue Jays games. It's not his team yet, but it will be soon and 2019 is when that transition begins. What's the vision for the Blue Jays? Well, at least part of it involves climbing on Guerrero's back and enjoying the ride.
Return on investment
The timing wasn't right to trade Marcus Stroman or Aaron Sanchez this offseason. Both starters were coming off injury-plagued years and their trade values weren't high enough to justify moving high-caliber arms for cents on the dollar. That should change if either pitcher gets off to a strong start this year.
Toronto wasn't able to net much of a return for Donaldson last season and the club would like to make sure history doesn't repeat itself by securing big hauls for veteran pieces such as Stroman, Sanchez, Ken Giles and Justin Smoak. The rebuild isn't over; it will continue midway through this year.
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.