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Blue Jays Stock Market Report: Year-End Update

The new fund manager.
The new fund manager.
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

A tumultuous year in the Blue Jays stock market has come and gone, with very good returns if you stayed on until the end. Entering Q1 the feeling was hopeful but apprehensive, while the early update in the year was even less positive. As the season reached the halfway mark things were very much up in the air, which eventually manifested into a bull market as the year reached Q4. Now we stand looking back at the ups and downs of the year, ready to take stock of the Blue Jays holdings moving forward. Although the team lacks much diversification and is heavily invested in the slugger industry, things are still looking quite good for the organization entering Q1 of next season.

A new fund manager in Mark Shapiro has taken over the operations, with the old one going out after his gains reached their peak. Where Alex Anthopoulos was reminiscent of a wild floor trader, Shapiro seems destined to take a much more rigid and systematic approach to running the fund. Will it be effective? We won't have to wait very long to find out.

Blue Chip Stocks

A category that has stayed pretty consistent since early in the year is the blue chip stocks. While Mark Buehrle and Brett Cecil once had their tickers listed here, it's been just three men considered the crème de la crème for the majority of the fiscal year. Jose Bautista (FLIP) continued his amazing offensive form for another season and sealed it off with some serious postseason dramatics. It was like a solid stock announcing greater-than-expected earnings at the end of the year. A true blue chip that keeps giving and giving. It would take a special asset to outperform FLIP, but Josh Donaldson (RAIN) was able to do just that. In his first year with the fund, RAIN hit 41 home runs and had a 141 wRC+, making him one of the most attractive stocks in the entire market. Rounding out the blue chips is Edwin Encarnacion (EE) who had to play third fiddle to the other two stars this year, despite being just as potent.

Entering next year, these three blue chips will be depended on to carry the organization once again. Despite being huge assets, they're being paid value prices which is a real good situation for the Blue Jays portfolio. There's a small chance that one of them could be moved for a collection of more unproven stocks, but the shareholders would certainly not be pleased if that occurred.

Dependable Stocks

While overshadowed by their big brother blue chips, these dependable stocks are necessary in a strong portfolio and will be counted on again next year by the Blue Jays. Russell Martin (RUSS) hit okay this year when it was all said and done, but also backed it up with some tremendous defence. The Canadian nearly threw out half of would-be base stealers as well as learning to catch R.A. Dickey's knuckleball. So far the purchase of RUSS has paid off enough dividends to be considered a strong move. Troy Tulowitzki (TULO) has been a blue chip for most of his life but was not all that great with Toronto. Injuries put a damper on his first season north of the border, but he has enough of a track record to be backed for a big year in 2016.

The pitching staff doesn't find itself in a lot of quality categories in regards to this update, but Brett Cecil (CECL) is one guy whose performance deserves to be applauded. A slow start to the year was all but forgotten thanks to his late-summer scoreless streak that helped solidify the shaky Jays bullpen. Things could have worked out very differently for the team if CECL hadn't suspended their operations in the postseason, but it was hardly his own fault. Look for Brett to potentially return to the closer role as he heads towards free agency after next season.

Startups That Succeeded

Entering the year, most analysts knew that the Blue Jays fortunes rested on their numerous young assets. Starting Q1 with a massive amount of rookie starters, it didn't work out as well as anyone would have hoped. But through that process the team was able to find out that they had two legit players in Roberto Osuna (ROBO) and Devon Travis (DEVO). While other guys like Miguel Castro, Daniel Norris, and Dalton Pompey showed they were not quite the ready, the trial by fire was likely worth seeing who was ready to contribute and who wasn't. Along with ROBO and DEVO, Marcus Stroman (STRO) is a just few solid weeks away from blue chip status. After resuming operations in September, STRO pitched extremely well down the stretch and then made a number of great playoff starts. He's the team's best pitching asset by a mile.

Two startups that at first found the market to be an intimidating force, but then composed themselves and dominated this year were Kevin Pillar (GOLD) and Ryan Goins (GOGO). Both players entered the year with the bench considered to be their ceiling, but played their way into huge roles on the team. GOLD did not hit very well at all for stretches of the year, but his amazing defence has earned him what seems to be a starting job in 2016. GOGO on the other hand took advantage of a DEVO injury to show that he's worth a little more than what the market values him at. He'll be an important utility middle infield asset to have in the portfolio going forward.

Although he is a more veteran startup than the others, Chris Colabello (COLA) received a real investment for the first time in his career. He's riding high on a fair amount of helium thanks to a .400+ BABIP, but he's at least earned his chance to return next year and show that 2015 was not a mirage. Another experienced startup in Aaron Sanchez (ROGY) finally found a role that fits him this year, which helped him realize some gains for the Jays. Despite being utilized ineffectively for large parts of the season, ROGY dominated and became one of the beneficiaries of international exposure during the postseason.

Neutral Recommendation

R.A. Dickey's (DICK) time with the Blue Jays can essentially summed up by the words "neutral recommendation". The trade that got him ended up helping send the Mets to the World Series, while the veteran knuckler was destroyed in Game 4 of the ALCS for the Jays. His option has been picked up for next season and he'll likely split opinion again, eventually ending the year with a 4.00-ish ERA.

Ben Revere (SNGL), Michael Saunders (HURT), Ezequiel Carrera (CARR), and Dalton Pompey (POMP) all play left field at some sort of mediocre level. We'll see what stocks stay with the fund heading into next season.

Justin Smoak (SMOK) was fine with the Blue Jays this year...that is all.

Buy and Hold

In the volatile world of bullpen stocks, buying and holding who you believe in is probably the safest bet. Aaron Loup (LOOG) and Liam Hendriks (AUSI) (even Tepera and Schultz) should come back strong next year and make up the front end of the 'pen. Hopefully they follow the Brett Cecil career arc and not the Steve Delabar one.

Let Your Options Expire

In this case I do not mean contract options in a baseball sense, but more the financial version of them. Mark Lowe (LOWE), David Price (BYE), Maicer Izturis (LOL), Mark Buehrle (BUEH), Dioner Navarro (DION) and LaTroy Hawkins (OLD) are all destined to leave the fund this year. As their expiration date approaches, it is time to let the market determine their value and only reinvest if it is wise. AKA none of these guys are coming back.

Exercise Your Option

Marco Estrada (CHIP) surprised everyone this year and showed the market how much they undervalued him. It would be wise for Mark Shapiro to extend a qualifying offer to CHIP as one of the first moves of his tenure. After that, he'll have to let his chips fall where they may, no pun intended.

There you have it folks. What a great year of stock-watching we had in 2015. If you bought the Blue Jays prior to the season you would have realized some nice gains as the team came just a few bounces away from a spot in the World Series. Let us know your thoughts on the Blue Jays portfolio heading into next year.