The party is finally over for the American League East division champions. A solid comeback effort in Game Six of the ALCS, left the Jays short, the Royals as league champions, and heartbreak for Canadian baseball fans throughout the country. The team reached the postseason for the first time since 1993, closed an improbable gap to overtake the New York Yankees to win the east, and more importantly–showed their fan base that they were willing to do whatever it took to compete NOW. The acquisitions of shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and ace hurler David Price changed the makeup of this team, and although Price hit a wall during the postseason, down the stretch, he was every bit what they expected.
So now that the 2015 campaign is over, do the Blue Jays go back to be one of those teams that can bludgeon opponents to death, and pray that they don’t give up nearly that many runs, or do they build on what they just accomplished, and try to stay relevant in a weak eastern division that could be their’s for the taking for the next couple of years?
Let’s start with David Price. He is going to test the free agent waters, and why not? He’s arguably one of the three best left-handed pitchers in the entire game (Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale being the others), and for the first time ever, HE can choose his own landing spot. There are going to be plenty of able suitors who will open their respective wallets (Cubs, Yankees, Dodgers) among others. Will the Jays even try and compete to keep his services, or will they go another route? Along with the departure of Price, lefty Mark Buehrle has retired, and former Cy Young-winner R.A. Dickey has a team option that could be declined. That conceivably could leave three-fifths of the current rotation vacant.
It should be safely assumed that the Jays will pick up the $10 million dollar option on Edwin Encarnacion, and the remainder of the offense is still intact. If they choose to buy him out for $2 mil, they could go all-in on Chris Davis, but that doesn’t address the pitching issues. Zack Greinke, Jeff Samardzija, and Jordan Zimmermann head up a solid free agent pitching class if the Jays choose to move on from Price. If the Jays want to upgrade at second base, they could go after Ben Zobrist, Howie Kendrick, or the prize of the postseason: Daniel Murphy of the Mets.
It’s tough to sit back and claim the Jays need any semblance of an overhaul. They do not. Vital lineup pieces are still intact, but the starting pitching has to be of concern. The Blue Jays have the fans back in full force, and they believe. Will the organization and ownership keep a good thing going, spend the necessary money to keep their pitching good enough to compete in a weak division, or will they build on the fly, and hope nobody else in the division improves dramatically both on offense and defense? It will be an exciting winter hot stove season north of the border.