It’s no secret that the Toronto Blue Jays have suffered consecutive gruesome seasons. But general manager Russ Atkins would remain positive about the team’s future in a postseason press conference Tuesday. Atkins would even allude to returning players to Toronto — one of which the team traded to the New York Yankees in July.
According to Sportsnet’s Mike Wilner, Atkins says he’s willing to bring back J.A. Happ and impending free agent Marco Estrada. The team would surely benefit from returning top players to the organization. The Blue Jays have finished fourth in the American League East in each of the past two years, winning fewer than 80 games.
And while nothing the organization does will make an impact for the 2019 season, the Blue Jays look forward to the years to come.
“Timelines are so difficult,” Atkins adds. “I don’t expect us next year to be jumping up and down on mounds. If that starts to look more realistic in the following year or the year after that, then that’s what we’re shooting for.”
The Blue Jays essentially have everything to improve on: pitching, defense and base-running. But first, a new manager?
If the Blue Jays reunite Happ and Estrada, that would at least solve one of the team’s problems. Happ finished 2018 in Toronto 10-6 with a 4.18 ERA and 130 strikeouts. In Happ’s career with the Blue Jays (so far), he is 59-41 with a 3.88 ERA and 691 strikeouts. He was named an All-Star for the first time in 2018.
Since joining the Yankees, Happ has improved. He earned seven wins and no losses while posting a 2.69 ERA.
Estrada didn’t have the best 2018 season, though. His first season with the team was his best — he finished 13-1 with a 3.13 ERA. In 2018, he posted 7-14 record with a 5.64 ERA. As a Blue Jay, Estrada has a 39-40 record with a 4.25 ERA and 575 strikeouts.
Atkins mentioned they might have to consider trading from its young core, which includes Bo Bichette and Vlad Guerrero Jr, to obtain solid pitching.
It really just seems like the Blue Jays are open to almost anything during free agency.