The Blue Jays are finally starting to find their groove in the 2016 season, hovering just over .500 as the season wanes into the dog days of summer.
If you take a look at last season, the Jays are in an eerily similar situation today. On June 12, 2015, the Jays owned a 32-30 record. Arguably, they were in a slightly better position given that they were only two games back of the New York Yankees for the division lead, a team they'd have the opportunity to face numerous times throughout the remainder of the season. Today the Jays sit 2.5 games back of the division leading Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles whom they face six and 12 more times respectively. That's not to say it's impossible for the Blue Jays to overcome the Red Sox and Orioles for the division lead, rather that it's much easier to make up ground when directly facing the opponent you're chasing.
The other major fact the 2015 Jays roster had over this year's incarnation is that they had one of the best second-half records in all of baseball. By the second-half I'm sure by now you know that I mean from July 31st onward when the Jays finished their massive overhaul on their roster, adding Troy Tulowitzki, David Price, LaTroy Hawkins, Ben Revere and Mark Lowe (it still feels weird to type all those names out). From then to the end of the season the Jays owned a 40-18 record, winning the AL East by a comfortable margin of six games.
Now, whether you think this year's Blue Jays are capable of accomplishing such a feat is solely based on your own opinion. Yes, they do have most of the same pieces in tact that created that magical run last season--except David Price of course--but this same crop has been struggling mightily this year and there's no automatic truism that they're going to be able to find their way out anytime soon.
Unlike last year however, the Blue Jays won't be able to do much at this year's trade deadline in hopes of making a strong push for the postseason. The reason is quite simple in that to acquire something of value, you typically have to give up something of value. In championship or playoff contending teams, this typically comes in the form of prospects who are not on the current 25-man roster and have little expectation of contributing to this year's playoff run. Last year it was the likes of Jeff Hoffman, Miguel Castro and Daniel Norris, among others who were used as bait to haul in the large catch. This year, the farm system is much weaker. MiLB ranks the Jays farm system at 24th with prospects like Anthony Alford, Jon Harris and Connor Greene leading the way, but even they wouldn't be enough to haul in a small trout (pardon the pun) off the trading block.
Not only that, it was rumoured last season that incoming President Mark Shapiro was not happy with Alex Anthopoulos's laissez faire approach to unloading the farm so it's nearly inconceivable that he would repeat the process this year with even less to work with.
This is all just a preview to the annual buyers versus sellers debate that typically heats up around this time heading into July. As it stands, it's likely the Jays won't be either. With few pieces they aren't currently using of value and a rightful unwillingness to sell the farm, any addition more than a small bullpen arm would be surprising to say the least. Nor should you expect a fire-sale with the team currently in contention and their two biggest pieces--Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista--unlikely to be willing to waive their no-trade clauses.
So buckle-up and enjoy the ride. For better or for worse, what you see is what you're going to get come season's end.