This is a project where 30 people got together to act as the GMs of the 30 MLB teams with the idea of conducting the offseason in one week. This is what happened in this simulation, not a prediction of what will happen in real life.
After a few years in a row of getting teams going through rebuilds, this year I got the opportunity to re-load the Toronto Blue Jays. With the core of a recent playoff team still intact but coming off of a disappointing fourth-place finish in the AL East 17.0 games behind the Red Sox, it was time for a change. My main goal was to infuse the roster with new, young talent while still maintaining competitiveness.
The first big move I made was to trade Josh Donaldson to the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals initiated the contact and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I received Matt Carpenter, Tommy Pham, Jose Martinez and prospects Dakota Hudson and Jose Adolis Garcia. Carpenter and Pham can help to fill the offensive holes vacated by Donaldson and Jose Bautista. Martinez, Hudson and Garcia will all start the year in Triple-A, with Hudson likely a mid-season call up to the rotation.
This trade set the tone for the remainder of the offseason as I would remain active in the trade market. My next deal was to send relief pitcher Dominic Leone to the New York Mets for Wilmer Flores. Flores would fill a utility infielder/designated hitter role off the bench for the Jays, serving as a platoon option in a hitter-friendly park which should help maximize his value. In need of a late-inning reliever to replace Leone, I sent Justin Smoak to Cleveland for Dan Otero.
That trade left me with a hole in the infield, and the prospect of starting either Wilmer Flores or Richard Urena every day. But then the Braves came calling. They were interested in Marcus Stroman and were offering Dansby Swanson. I didn’t go into this project wanting to trade Stroman, but the ability to acquire Swanson was too great. I sent Atlanta Stroman and Bo Schultz for Swanson and left-handed pitching prospect Max Fried. My plan is to start Swanson at shortstop and move Troy Tulowitzki to the less-demanding third base position.
I had an opportunity to make a fifth trade and bring in Chris Archer from the Rays, but they were asking for Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Anthony Alford, three big-time prospects that I didn’t want to part with.
In free agency I turned my eyes to starting pitching help, signing Chris Tillman for $22 million and stealing Michael Pineda for $13 million. I rounded out my player acquisitions by signing pitchers David Aardsma and Tim Melville and catcher Rene Rivera to non-roster invitee contracts for spring training to compete for a job.
The everyday starters for my version of the 2018 Blue Jays look like this:
C – Russell Martin
1B – Matt Carpenter
2B – Devon Travis
SS – Dansby Swanson
3B – Troy Tulowitzki
LF – Tommy Pham
CF – Kevin Pillar
RF – Anthony Alford
DH – Kendrys Morales
The pitching staff:
SP – Chris Tillman
SP – J.A. Happ
SP – Michael Pineda
SP – Aaron Sanchez
SP – Marco Estrada
RP – Tom Koehler
RP – Aaron Loup
RP – Danny Barnes
RP – Joe Biagini
RP – Carlos Ramirez
RP – Dan Otero
RP – Roberto Osuna
And finally, the bench:
IF – Richard Urena
IF – Wilmer Flores
OF/1B – Steve Pearce
C – Rene Rivera/Luke Maile
Overall, I think this is a Blue Jays team that is improved from 2017, and has gotten younger with additions of Swanson, Pineda, Pham and young pitching prospects. I was able to hold on to mega-prospects Guerrero and Bichette and managed to come in $486,000 under budget. Would this team compete in 2018? I don’t know, but it is set up to be competitive now and in the future.
|C||Rene Rivera||$555,000.00||2017 Budget:||$165,000,000.00|
|1B||Matt Carpenter||$13,750,000.00||2017 Spent:||$164,514,000.00|
|SP||Marco Estrada||$13,000,000.00||Luke Maile|
|RP||Tom Koehler||$6,000,000.00||David Aardsma|
|RP||Aaron Loup||$1,800,000.00||Tim Melville|
|RP||Danny Barnes||$555,000.00||Dakota Hudson|
|RP||Joe Biagini||$555,000.00||Ryan Teper|
|RP||Carlos Ramirez||$555,000.00||Jose Adolis Garcia|
|RP||Dan Otero||$1,400,000.00||Jose Martinez|
|RP||Roberto Osuna||$5,600,000.00||Dalton Pompey|
|Lourdes Gurriel||$1,429,000.00||Max Fried|