Can Canada’s team repeat?
By Davie Wong, Sports Editor
It wasn’t too long ago the nation was crazy for Canada’s only team in the MLB. The Toronto Blue Jays made history last year, finishing at the top of their tough division, and coming within two games of going to the World Series. Having had their team come so close to fall just short, fans might think that the organization would do its best to retain the members of the winning team.
However, this offseason was quite the shocker for new, inexperienced fans of the MLB. A long list of departures saw star starting pitcher David Price, talented outfielder Ben Revere, utility infielder Cliff Pennington, and veteran pitcher Mark Buehrle take their leave. Those were just some of the more notable names, as the list spanned several more. The biggest name on that list was fan favourite, Price, who came to the big city earlier in year from a huge trade. He was a huge factor in the Jays’ winning, going 9-1 with a league leading 2.30 ERA since being traded.
Going into the offseason, it was expected that the Blue Jays’ organization would make a move to keep the sensational pitcher in Toronto. But instead, they let him walk. This may be due to the fact that the man who brought him in, general manager Alex Anthopoulos, rejected a five-year extension from the organization, and left to sign with the LA Dodgers.
He went on to sign a huge deal with the Jay’s division rival, the Boston Red Sox. His departure, as well as the departure of Buehrle, leaves a giant gap in the Jays’ starting rotation. The hole is much too big for Marcus Stroman to fill alone. To fill that gap, the organization brought in J.A. Happ from free agency, and Jesse Chavez for the Oakland Athletics, as well as several candidates from the bullpen to pick from. At the moment, it would seem that the youngster from the bullpen, Aaron Sanchez, is leading the charge for the open spots, but anything could happen come opening day.
From the outfield, with the departure of Revere, there was an opening for that needed to be filled. Originally, it was thought by many that the talented prospect Dalton Pompey would be filling that gap. But he has since been sent down to the AAA league. Now all that is left, to decide who will be filling the role of utility outfielder at number 4. It’s believed that either Ezequiel Carrera or Junior Lake will be joining the Jays on the opening roster, but the battle is neck-and-neck.
From the infield, not much has changed. The organization locked up 2015-16 MVP Josh Donaldson with a 2-year extension, and solidified their lineup for this year. With Edwin Encarnacion battling age and injury, along with his contract ending at the end of this year, it will be interesting to see whether or not he makes a statement to stay with his play this year, or slowly be phased out and replaced by a younger hitter. Chris Colabello has definitely made a statement this spring training for Encarnacion’s job. Only time will tell if the team sticks with the youth, or give their veteran the payoff he feels that he’s earned.
With the changes in management, as well as the shifts in the pitching rotations and bullpen, it is hard to say where the team will be come the all-star break. Maybe this year can be a repeat, but I highly doubt it. I think it’s back to the drought for the Jays. At least for now.