Here we go again. Scott MacArthur of TSN.ca writes that the Jays should be willing to trade Jose Bautista in the off-season. The club’s positional portion of the roster “is built to win now. You could argue the positional roster is beyond its ability to win, past its prime. Centrefielder Dalton Pompey is the only positional prospect of consequence playing higher than Single-A. He’s currently at Triple-A Buffalo,” he explains. “It’s time for the Jays to supplement the young pitchers with a more youthful positional corps. The way to do that is to take the best asset, Bautista, and use his prodigious productivity and cheap contract to secure a haul.” I might agree if Bautista’s contract wasn’t so good. I might agree if whatever young position players they could get their hands on wouldn’t come with huge question marks that Bautista doesn’t. I might agree if I thought this team was irrevocably broken and not just a few savvy tinkers away from being able to make noise in the AL East again. I might agree that the age gap is such a concern if there hadn’t been 16 playoff games started by pitchers age 23 and under in the last two seasons, and 47 made by pitchers age 24 and under in the last four. I might agree… but I don’t.*
McArthur focused on roster construction as the reason Bautista could be in play this winter, but it’s certainly not like there hasn’t been a bunch of peripheral noise being made around the Jays’ superstar this week — much of his own doing. But even as things may have been getting worse (though not in my eyes) with his shouldn’t-be-shocking reluctance to sing the praises of Rogers, they may have been getting better, too. One example is Bob Elliott’s counterpoint to Scott’s trade talk, writing in the Toronto Sun — in a piece with a big, bold headline — that Bautista isn’t going anywhere. At least not in the player’s view. “I’m not going anywhere until the end of my contract,” he says.
Of course, he doesn’t really have any say in that. Not yet, at least — but it’s damn close. I thought I was super sharp for thinking of this, but it was actually brought up first by a caller on last night’s JaysTalk, as I later discovered: Bautista will end this season having spent six full years on the Jays’ active roster (plus part of 2008, after he was acquired from Pittsburgh), and will have nine years and 165 days of big league service time — just seven days short of ten years of big league service. Seven days short of earning his ten and five rights, and the right to veto any trade. If they don’t trade him this off-season, it will become very difficult to do so. Edwin Encarnacion, by the way, will also hit the milestone by the end of next season.
It’s worth repeating and adding to this, even though I proved a link in last night’s piece: Shi Davidi vindicates Bautista’s contention that he didn’t deserve his ejection on Sunday afternoon. “hey were both down. They were both down. It’s a one-run game,” is what Davidi quotes Bautista as saying in a piece last night at Sportsnet. “You gotta go,” umpire Bill Welke responds. “I’m not cursing you,” Bautista responds, and is then ejected. It wasn’t the first time, Shi reminds us, that Bautista was run by Welke: “On Aug. 26, 2011 in Toronto, Welke was behind the plate for another game between the Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays, and called a second strike in Bautista’s third at-bat that he didn’t like. A few pitches later Bautista struck out for the third time against James Shields, and when he returned to the dugout began smashing the wall with his bat and cursed out, earning an ejection from Welke. Once tossed, Bautista proceeded to throw his bat, helmet, elbow pads and other accoutrements onto the field.” Hmmm.
Ben Lindbergh of Grantland take an excellent, deep look at players who have lost their prospect eligibility this season, and how they have trended in the eyes of scouts, scouting directors, analysts, and other executives, and I don’t want to spoil it for you, but the huge main image at the top of the post is of Marcus Stroman. He leads off the “trending up” portion of the piece, and why the hell shouldn’t he? One person he spoke to says that Stroman has already proven himself a capable mid-rotation starter, but another seems to go farther. ”I was worried about the lack of an out pitch vs. LHHs, although I did think he’d be able to stick as a starter. The development of his cutter and fastball command have essentially molded him into a pitcher with three plus offerings.” Nails much?
Aaron Sanchez, by the way, gets an honourable mention in the “trending up” section after he received multiple up votes himself. However, Sanchez is also mentioned later, as at least one of those surveyed felt he’d trended down.
Here’s something fun: though he is at least reasonable enough to point out that there’s no way to know if it was a grave error for the Jays to have not found more reinforcements at the trade deadline (have you seen this? have you heard about this?) or something else, and to note that both the Tigers and A’s — huge deadline winners, we were told — have suffered as well, but Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs looks at the changes in playoff probabilities across the majors since July 31, and HOLY FUCKING SHIT. The Jays have lost 56 percentage points off their odds as of that date — by far the most in baseball. Detroit’s 30 points and Atlanta’s 20 percentage points lost are second and third highest, so… yeah.