Say what you will about Ross Atkins, the poor guy has one of the toughest and most thankless jobs in all of Canada. And considering the overpaid/aging team he inherited two years ago, including a depleted farm system, he’s done a pretty decent job of things so far.
With the exception of a few bad signings last off-season, where Atkins has really excelled in his role as Blue Jays GM has been with respect to acquiring solid prospects, and not having to part with much to get them.
With Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto has two of the best prospects in all of baseball. The main problem with Toronto’s farm system is that beyond Guerrero, Bichette, and a handful of other prospects, the Blue Jays don’t yet posses the depth of young talent needed over the next 2-3 years in order to replenish their veteran heavy, aging roster.
The Blue Jays currently find themselves at a crossroads, and they can go one of two ways with this so-called rebuild of theirs. They can do as they say, and hold onto Josh Donaldson in an effort to compete next season against teams (specifically New York and Boston) that are deeper and more talented than they are. Or, they can be realistic about Toronto’s chances in 2018, take a proactive approach, and move Donaldson this off-season and get back a heck of a lot more for him compared to what they’d receive if they were to move him at next years trade deadline.
Even with Donaldson, the Blue Jays will have a tough time competing next season. With their lack of depth, they’ll have to pray most everyone stays healthy, and also hope the starting rotation can regain the dominant form they displayed back in 2016. The problem with holding onto Donaldson, is say the Blue Jays do manage to stay within striking distance of the post-season by the time next years trade deadline rolls around on July 31. They would then miss out completely on the chance to move the one person who can bring back by far the greatest return of young talent that this ball club will be needing in the years to come.
Considering how much Atkins was able to get in the form of prospects for Drew Hutchison, Francisco Liriano, and Joe Smith, could you imagine what kind of haul he could score if he were to move an asset like Donaldson? When it comes to Toronto’s approach to rebuilding, they seem to think they can have their cake and eat it too. The business side of the Blue Jays (aka Mark Shapiro) is saying hold onto Donaldson and attempt to win in 2018. Whereas the baseball side of this team (aka Ross Atkins) is probably thinking lets move Donaldson now and give this rebuild the boost it so desperately is going to need.