Blue Jays’ rebuild has arrived unannounced

MLB insider Shi Davidi joins Sportsnet's Starting Lineup to delve deep into Marcus Stroman's puzzling late inning loss of command.

It has arrived unannounced while nobody was paying attention, in the process revealing how moot were suggestions that the Toronto Blue Jays should scorch the roster and embark on a clear-cut rebuild.

What … you can’t do a rebuild without announcing it formally in a letter to your season-ticket holders? Or hold a news conference to break the harsh truth to the chattering classes?

Well, it’s here. The Blue Jays are rebuilding. Just because Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., and Bo Bichette are in double-A, and Troy Tulowitzki, Kendrys Morales and Josh Donaldson are cashing paycheques at the big-league level doesn’t mean the Blue Jays aren’t rebuilding in 2018. Injury necessitated the call-up of Teoscar Hernandez; Lourdes Gurriel Jr., is on the roster, too. Anthony Alford is healthy again at triple-A.

So let’s take a step back: there is a pathway here where the 2019 Blue Jays have a starting rotation led by Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman, each of whom won’t be eligible for free agency until 2021. The same holds true for Roberto Osuna. Guerrero Jr., will be here next season. So will Hernandez and Gurriel and Alford and maybe catcher Danny Jansen. Logan Warmoth is a college middle infielder who will come quickly, maybe at the same time as Bichette. Ryan Borucki and Nate Pearson are high-profile arms that won’t be far behind.

True, injuries could interrupt this flow … but then, injuries can also kill a draft pick’s career after a club has tanked to get him and, let’s be realistic here, the player a team tanks to get – if he does fall to the team that desires him in a draft where, remember, picks cannot be traded – likely isn’t going to help in the next two seasons. It’s impossible to do a rebuild in baseball the way you do in the other major North American sports. I mean, that’s just the reality of it.

This isn’t a point being made because of the Blue Jays’ better-than-expected start. It’s simply a reminder that there was no sense for the Blue Jays to “tear it down” after last season, because even though they are saddled with the millstone of all contracts in Tulowitzki’s deal, rebuilding blocks were already in place. True, there are a number of clubs already playing out the string to … well, to do what, exactly? Get a chance at a Guerrero Jr.? Or a Bichette? Got ‘em.

NOW TWEET THIS

• No disrespect to Zach Hyman, but when the Leafs are ready to win the Stanley Cup it will be with Mitch Marner and someone else on Auston Matthews’ wings, with William Nylander centring another line. It’s not only along the blue line where upgrades are needed #incomplete

• The young Sixers ball movement is special: through four playoff games they’ve averaged 20-plus assists, and have a league-best 38-game streak of doing so including the regular season. The 1992-93 Hornets put a 44-game run together #share

• Prior to the Athletics’ Sean Manaea and his no-hitter against the Red Sox on Saturday, the last team to lead the majors in runs per game to be no-hit was the 1990 Blue Jays, no-hit by Dave Stewart of the A’s on June 29 #rare

Shohei Ohtani is scheduled to start against the Astros Tuesday and can become the first player in history with three wins and three home runs in April #unicorn

• The Timberwolves shot 50 per cent from the floor in taking Game 3 against the Rockets and keep an eye on that number in Monday’s Game 4: the Rockets have lost nine playoff games in a row and eight of 17 regular-season games when opponents shoot 50 per cent #halfmeasures

• … and just like that, all those old ghosts come out again #Raptors

THE ENDGAME

My favourite Expos teams to cover during my time at The Gazette was the 1996 group, which finished two games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in a National League wild-card race that went to the final weekend of the season. This was two years after the players strike that led to the breakup of the best team in baseball, leaving a cavalier group led by the likes of David Segui, F.P. Santangelo, Moises Alou and Pedro Martinez that saw a cameo all-star season by Henry Rodriguez, who clubbed 36 homers and had fans at Olympic Stadium tossing Oh Henry! bars on the field. Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., would make his debut late in the season.

That group hit six grand slams before May 1: two each by Segui, Darrin Fletcher and Shane Andrews, including a 21-9 hammering of the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on April 28 in which Segui and Fletcher both hit grand slams. The Expos hit all of their grand slams after April 15; a two-week period of power that was a sight to see. No team has hit that many slams before May Day since then but – don’t look now Blue Jays fans – the Boston Red Sox will open a three-game series at the Rogers Centre on Tuesday having already hit five grand slams this season. All of the Red Sox slams have come in their last 14 games. They didn’t hit a grand slam in 2017. Oof.

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