After reaching the American League Championship Series in back-to-back seasons, the Blue Jays' 2017 campaign was nothing short of a disappointment. Yet despite his team's 76-86 record, Toronto general manager Ross Atkins believes a return to the postseason in 2018 is only a roster tweak or two away, no matter how many Josh Donaldson trade rumors surface this winter. "We're just trying to build upon what is already very good here," Atkins said. "This team can absolutely win; there's no doubt about it." The Donaldson rumors aren't likely to disappear any time soon, but Atkins pointed to the former AL MVP Award winner -- who is slated to become a free agent a year from now -- as one of the biggest factors in a potential bounceback campaign by the Blue Jays next season. "Josh Donaldson is one of the better players in baseball and will continue to be for some time," Atkins said. "When he's on the field, we have an incredible chance to win." Unfortunately for Toronto, Donaldson was one of many players who struggled to stay on the field last season. Donaldson missed 38 games with a calf injury, while Russell Martin (42 games), Troy Tulowitzki (86 games) and Devon Travis (102 games) were also on the DL for significant chunks of time. Altogether, 25 players accounted for 31 DL stints, missing more than 1,400 games combined. "There's a lot of discussion in and around the age of our roster," Atkins said. "We do have an older offensive roster with position players, and we had a lot of injuries. We have to do everything we can not only to try to prevent those, but to be prepared to overcome them. We feel we're in a better position to do that." Outfielders Jay Bruce and Lorenzo Cain were among the first free agents attached to Toronto after the season, hardly a surprise given the Blue Jays' decision to let Jose Bautista become a free agent. The emergence of Justin Smoak last season gave the lineup another weapon, though it would not be shocking to see the Blue Jays add another big bat this winter via trade or free agency.
Donaldson key to Blue Jays' rebound
MLB.com | Nov 22