The Blue Jays have five players under contract through at least 2010, though right-hander A.J. Burnett's deal includes an opt-out clause that he could exercise after next year. Outside of arbitration-eligible players or protected players on the roster, Toronto has eight signed through next year, including designated hitter Frank Thomas, who has a vesting option for '09.
"We're really not going to do anything in the sense that this team is here," Ricciardi continued. "This team was built for '07, '08, '09, '10. For the most part, this group was built to stay together. We don't have a lot of guys, outside of Frank and [catcher Gregg Zaun], who are older guys. So the majority of this group is going to stay together."
Basically, Toronto's team will remain virtually the same next season. The Blue Jays feel that the wave of injuries -- 12 different players have landed on the disabled list in the first half -- the team has endured is a main reason the club has struggled to keep pace in the division and Wild Card races. If the roster returns at full strength next year, Ricciardi believes things could be different.
"We could bring this club back totally healthy next year and we could be the guys in first place," Ricciardi said. "There's not underachievers on it. There's not old guys that you're trying to move bad contracts. It's a good group and I like our group. I want to go to battle with this group."
So Ricciardi's message was to not put too much stock into any trade rumors that have surfaced. One player whose name has been raised is Toronto third baseman Troy Glaus. The Dodgers and Angels have reportedly expressed interest in the California-raised Glaus, who has a no-trade clause in his contract.
"We like Troy a lot," said Ricciardi, who acquired the third baseman in a trade with Arizona two offseasons ago. "I worked really hard to get him here and we've got an All-Star with 30-something home runs and 100-something RBIs last year. He's here for next year and he's here through this year."
Ricciardi added that he's excited about the way a handful of young arms have provided a boost for Toronto's pitching staff. While the rotation and bullpen have been riddled with health woes, pitchers such as Shaun Marcum, Dustin McGowan, Jeremy Accardo and Casey Janssen have emerged as impressive arms.
"Probably the most refreshing thing is all the young kids that have played well while getting thrown into the fire," Ricciardi said. "We could play August and September with everybody but [injured closer B.J.] Ryan. I'm excited.
"I think this group is going to be together for the next few years."