MLBTR put out its predictions for offseason transactions and they have some interesting thoughts for the Toronto Blue Jays, which hopefully do not come true
The Toronto Blue Jays have a lot of work to do this offseason. If they’re going to get back to contention, they will likely have many irons in many fires, as the saying goes. Because of that, this winter should feature lots of chatter and predictions. To kick things off, we’ve been looking at some possible upgrades. Each year, MLBTR gets in on the fun and offers up landing spots and deals for free agents. While past winters have been difficult to think Toronto would be heavy shoppers, this year’s list has quite a few Blue Jays connections.
While the MLBTR predictions may make sense for different reasons, it is hopeful that they don’t come to fruition. That is particularly so for one outfield idea that doesn’t seem to go away…ever.
Prediction 1: Eduardo Nunez to Blue Jays- 2yrs/$14M
The Blue Jays certainly would be well served by finding themselves a utility guy. In fact, in the comment section of a previous post, I was asked what the new “market inefficiency” might be. I said that positional flexibility just might be it. A team that can run out Marwin Gonzalez or Chris Taylor in multiple positions has a distinct advantage over teams that can’t. Arguably, the Rays started it with Ben Zobrist. The Blue Jays are a team that has little to no flexibility thanks to needing the DH spot for the bat only Kendrys Morales, for starters. Considering their possible needs at second, short and the outfield – let’s not forget third so Josh Donaldson can be kept healthy – you can bet that Toronto’s front office will consider this option.
Nunez is definitely a guy who can fill these spots. He can take the necessary infield time and he is not a stranger to the outfield, having played there for 21 games in 2017. He wasn’t stellar at any of these spots, but he can get the job done on an as needed basis, which is important. His 2017 season yielded a slash line of .313/.341/.460. He put up 112 wRC+ and 2.2 fWAR (after 2.6 the year before). The $7M AAV might seem a bit high for a utility player, but we have to remember that he would be playing close to everyday and that kind of production is worth almost double the AAV.
For me, Nunez doesn’t make enough hard contact (26.7%) and has a walk rate less than that of Kevin Pillar, which… And, a 30 year old isn’t exactly how you make a roster younger. If we’re being greedy, a left handed bat would be better. Instead, the switch hitting Ketel Marte is a better option. He also brings a speed element that Nunez doesn’t and he has 4 years of team control remaining. Obviously, if the Blue Jays are going to weigh these two options (not that they are the only two options in the world), it will come down to whether they would rather spend $7M for the next two years, or spend prospect capital now and save some money for the next 4. If left up to me, it would be the latter.
Prediction 2: Tony Watson to Blue Jays- 2yrs/$12M
If this were the offseason of two years ago, I would have jumped at this deal. Watson would have been coming off back to back seasons of ~1.5 fWAR. But, this is not then. Now, he’s coming off a 2017 season that saw him used in more of a situational role. His 66.2 innings came from 71 games. As well, his walk rate and strike out rate are both going in the wrong direction. Now, he did manage a LOB% of 84.1%, which is important in a bullpen role. But, it is easier to maintain that when you only see action in a limited capacity.
$6M per year seems a bit high for my liking, especially for a guy coming off a season with the highest WHIP (1.38) of his career. If he can improve on his change up, which shows to be his worst offering last season, then maybe he can increase his value. His fWAR doesn’t indicate a $6M season, which gives reason to pause. Though, some people might pay that much for Watson to replace the lefty Aaron Loup.
Prediction 3: Jay Bruce to Blue Jays- 3yrs/$39M
I told myself I would refuse to acknowledge any sentence with the words “Jay Bruce” and “Blue Jays” in it. So, against my better judgement, here we go. It feels like Bruce must be 37 years old because we’ve been hearing his name linked to Toronto for so long. Well, he’s just 30. And, he’s coming off a season where he hit 36 home runs and drove in 101 runs on his way to putting up 2.7 fWAR for Cleveland. He’s a power hitter from the left side of the plate that has hit his way into being considered a real option for Toronto since Jose Bautista has left.
But, should he be? The argument is that his defense isn’t as bad as everyone says it is. He has recovered from his knee surgery and looks to have improved in the outfield. But, that improvement isn’t exactly Gold Glove material. His improved defense in 2017 was worth 5 DRS and a UZR/150 of 2.4. Exactly how long can a guy with repaired knees roam around the Rogers Centre and produce even replacement level defense? By the time this 3 yr deal is half way through, would we be looking at another Morales? That’s what I envision thanks to Morales-esque speed.
This would only further clog the roster and fly in the face of the flexibility mentioned in my market inefficiency statement above. This deal would further complicate the roster in the context of what management has been trying to do: get younger and more flexible. Having two slow, DH types on the same roster is a bad idea. And, if you thin that the answer to this is to simply trade Morales this winter, good luck with that.
The Toronto Blue Jays will be considering just about every scenario we can think of, and some we can’t. They probably have had lengthy discussions about the above three. I am hopeful that they were just conversations and that better judgement prevailed. I’m not knocking Tim Dierkes for writing these MLBTR predictions. Not at all. I just hope he’s wrong.
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