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The Toronto Blue Jays will win the World Series in 2015

Yes, I said it. The Toronto Blue Jays, who are more affectionately known as the AL East‘s younger brother who always gets picked on will win the World Series in 2015. Why not? They could do it, right? Anything is possible! Thing is, this prediction doesn’t come at JUST the regression of the Red Sox and Yankees. It’s more of a reflection of a perfect storm brewing in Toronto right in front of our eyes.

Remember when Alex Anthopoulous stepped into office in Toronto and nobody was talking about it? Then all of a sudden a few smart moves here and there and he’s getting a ton of cred for setting the team up for success practically over night. In reality, the Jays before the Anthopoulos era had resembled the Red Sox before their string of success in the 2000’s. Plenty of offense, but not enough pitching to put them over the top. Just in case you haven’t been paying attention, the situation has changed in Toronto. Not only do they have an offense that can keep an opposing starter up at night, but they’re loaded with talented arms with more on the way.

Currently the bulk of Toronto’s big centerpieces are either approaching/just starting arbitration or are locked into contracts with team options for up until 2016. The fact that they’re team options isn’t something that should be overlooked, nor should the numbers that Toronto has in their control. Reason being: if Toronto is in the ideal position, and everyone stays healthy, they can elect to keep their key high priced players for one more year where all the pieces can come together. Their three big rotation pieces, Morrow/Romero/Drabek are all under control through at least 2015. Henderson Alvarez, who might not have the upside of a Drabek/Morrow but is quite serviceable isn’t even arbitration eligible until 2015. Coming up the pipeline are a nice blend of high ceiling (Daniel Norris, Anthony Gose, Travis d’Arnaud, Jake Marisnick) players, and some more projectable arms like Drew Hutschison, Deck McGuire and Justin Nicolino.

Although players like Adam Lind and Travis Snider (currently with Pittsburgh) never worked out, the Jays are in a pretty good spot offensively. Of course, you can’t mention offense and the Blue Jays without mentioning Jose Bautista. Bautista signed a team-friendly contract, which seemed risky at the time, that will keep him in Toronto through 2015 with a team option for 2016. Not too long ago 2012 breakout Edwin Encarnacion signed an extension to remain with the Jays until 2015 with a 2016 option. Both Bautista and Encarnacion are pieces you build around if they continue to hit like they have been. They have cost certainty and considering their production levels, they’re absolute steals. The Jays would be blessed if J.P. Arencibia learned how to get on base, and even if he doesn’t, there’s a slight chance that catching super prospect Travis d’Arnaud can actually begin to stay healthy. Although a lot of scouts believe that may not be the case and that d’Arnaud will need to move from behind the plate if they want to get his bat in the lineup enough through the rivers of the MLB season.

2012 breakout and former top prospect Colby Rasmus is scheduled to hit free agency as of 2015. Rasmus may be the player that Toronto actually pays market value for if he continues to show improvement and turn into the player that the Cardinals thought he could be when they drafted and developed him. Where as Brett Lawrie isn’t even scheduled to be arbitration eligible until 2015, which shows you how advanced he is at such a young age.

What is interesting to see is that the Jays are 7th of 14 in the AL in attendance this year. That’s not too shabby and should net them a few extra bucks to fill in the holes that may pop up due to injury or free agency. Although their big pieces get “expensive” in their 2014-15-16 years, they’re not too bad in baseball payroll terms and are manageable contracts. The revenue potential is there and Toronto is a city that’s on the upswing, not the downswing. As the surrounding economy improves and as the Jays get better, their revenue streams will improve and they will be able to keep money for their peak years. What helps them, is that the new draft regulations will keep cost certainty in their draft budget as well.

Given these perfect storm conditions, which are no accident, I can see the Jays taking advantage of other AL East teams who were overly aggressive trading prospects away in the key years leading up to the draft regulation changes. Payroll is clearly the overriding factor here, but in reality, teams that have given away their prospects will have a long road ahead. Teams like the Jays who have made good, shrewd draft picks and moves here and there to improve their projection are going to thrive while the rest of the teams try to hurry up and adapt. Not only that, but the stars and centerpieces of the big market teams in the AL East are getting old, with high priced contracts, while the teams are trying to lower their payroll. Do the math.

They may, or they may not. A lot of things have to go right and/or wrong for the Jays for it to happen because in reality we’re talking about a game with real people. However, I do believe Toronto is in the position to make 2015 and/or 2016 their year.

 

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