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The Blue Jays are running the risk of tumbling down the American League hierarchy

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Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

On the back of a wild and unforgettable playoff run, most Blue Jays fans would have been expecting the fireworks and excitement to carry over into the offseason. With all the momentum being capitalized on and the team being wisely retooled for the 2016 campaign. After all, the window of contention for the "old guard" of R.A. Dickey, Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion is nearly closed. It hasn't quite worked out that way. A conclusion that could be (and probably is) premature. But it also could be troubling. Despite reports of massive increases in season ticket sales and flex pack buyers, the team has decided to take a slightly cautious route and spend their money more conservatively. No, this is not a #rogersischeap rant, this is just a concerned look at how the team is going about things this offseason.

Standing on their own without context, the team's offseason transactions are hardly egregious, but they happen to come on the tails of Alex Anthopoulos' departure. The most gutsy decision-maker in charge of the team in recent memory. The overblown response to the arrival of Mark Shapiro was that he would operate as more of a small market guy and perhaps take a safer more methodological approach to running a baseball club. Most reasonable Jays fans saw this as an unfair criticism of a man that had not even been given a chance to do his job yet and was simply caught in an awkward situation. But then the team proceeded to trade for Jesse Chavez and sign free agent pitcher J.A. Happ. Along with the re-signing of Marco Estrada, the Blue Jays looked to have filled the majority of their rotation spots. The way they did it looks somewhat "small market-esque", perhaps the decisions could even be described as "safe".

Now on December 1st, the worst thing anyone can do is assume the offseason is over and the current squad is the same group of guys who will show up to Dunedin in February for Spring Training. That being said, it gives you pause to look at the Blue Jays "major" transactions since the offseason began:

  • October 29: General Manager Alex Anthopoulos leaves the team
  • November 13: Blue Jays re-sign Marco Estrada to two-year deal worth $26 million
  • November 20: Blue Jays trade Liam Hendriks for Jesse Chavez
  • November 27: Blue Jays sign J.A. Happ to three-year deal worth $36 million
That doesn't scream out to anyone as a big market, win now, money to play with type of strategy. The 2015 team that essentially remains was very, very good. But they came up short of the mark and now they've seemingly taken a step backwards this offseason. The playoffs are a strange animal and 2016 may still fare better than the previous campaign, but it's certainly no sure thing. In fact, if this retooled rotation doesn't perform to their career bests, then the offence will be counted on to score just as many, if not more, runs than they scored last season. A tall task to ask for.

With MLB being such a competitive league with so few playoff spots, resting on your laurels usually doesn't turn out so well. The 2013 World Series Champion Red Sox who looked like a powerhouse destined to rule the AL East for years, went to the basement of the division for the two next seasons! Just being "good enough" usually doesn't turn out so well for consecutive years. There's just so many things that can happen over the course of a 162-game season that make it difficult to be good on an annual basis.

As the calendar turns to 2016 and the countdown to Spring Training begins, it's just a touch worrying that the Blue Jays will be taking another run at the division title with so many (current) question marks abound. Maybe tomorrow the team will find $200 million under their couch cushions and sign a huge free agent like David Price, but at this point it doesn't seem like Blue Jays nation is exactly filled with optimism about the coming season. There's nothing saying the team will be bad next year, but there isn't a ton of indication they'll be as good as 2015 either. That's slowly beginning to look like a risk the front office is willing to take. Only a few more months until we find out...