Blue Jays Offseason Leads to Moose Country

 

Blue Jays have begun a rather interesting offseason, one that has the potential to be quite positive and has them connected to some interesting names

 

 

 

 

The offseason for the Toronto Blue Jays is looking optimistic so far. Maybe that has something to do with expectations being near six feet under, but I’ll take it! It started with GM Ross Atkins’ comments saying, “This offseason will be one to remember”. Atkins also hinted that this winter would be similar to the ones that followed the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Many were skeptical and made jokes, but again, that was positive.

 

 

 

Then the team added starting pitcher, Chase Anderson in a trade with the Brewers and claimed reliever Anthony Bass off waivers from the Mariners. Overall, I can’t make a case against either move.

 

 

Earlier in the week, the team suggested it would be open to trading Lourdes Gurriel Jr. for starting pitching, and people got a little defensive.

 

 

I mean, Gurriel Jr. had his moments in 2019 before being derailed by a few injuries. Our Pineapple man hit .292/.339/.580 with a 137 wRC+ in 299 PA after transitioning to LF. Which is excellent, but that stretch doesn’t put him in the untouchables tier that only features Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

 

Then, Atkins talked about the Ken Giles trade market and gave this quote.

 

Realistically the quote can mean a lot of things. But I am assuming it means that they’re not looking to subtract from the major league roster. Which, again, is a good thing!

 

And all that leads us to a tweet by Shi Davidi from Wednesday.

 

Some interesting stuff on Jake Odorizzi, who will likely decline his qualifying offer from the Minnesota Twins. MLB trade rumours have his projected contract at $51 million over three years. Odorizzi will be 30 at the start of the 2020 season. The unique thing about him is he has never been on the IL with an arm injury and has made at least 28 starts in each of the last six seasons. If you’re a Jays fan, you value that along with his 3.51 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 10.08 K/9 in 2019.

 

The inspiration for this article, however, was the mention of Mike Moustakas in Davidi’s column. Moustakas or Moose is a 31-year-old left-handed hitter, 3B/2B option that I scoffed at when reading at a glance. But as I started to think about it more, he could be an intriguing piece for the Jays in 2020. He’s a veteran player that still fits the window of this team, has been consistent since 2015, wouldn’t break the bank, and would bring more depth and flexibility to the roster. The article and MLB trade rumours cited him potentially getting a deal around $20 million over two years.

 

When I talked about his consistency earlier, I wasn’t kidding!

 

Consistency has been a HUGE issue with many of the players currently on this roster. So Moose would be very welcome.

 

Where would Moose play?

 

Well, that’s a good question and a fair one. On a day to day basis, I’m not too concerned about the positions. The objective should be to get all your best bats in the lineup as often as possible. Playing a player in their second position or rotating them around isn’t a bad thing. Assuming they’re not a huge detriment defensively, of course. And Moustakas isn’t that at any of the three positions he’s played over his nine-year career.

 

Up until 2018, he was exclusively a third baseman and had no playing time at any other position. I guess this sort of feeds into another conversation and the growing need for position players that have a few homes around the diamond. The days of players playing one position are dying, aside from the more premier guys in our game. Flexibility is key. It’s why Brandon Drury is even still on this roster. Plus with all the profound shifts we see in-game, a player’s overall fielding tools are more critical. Familiarity on the diamond is essential, too, but I don’t expect anyone on this team to pull a Will Ferrell any time soon. Two or three different positions is enough — more than one at the minimum.

 

In 2018, Moose saw 35 innings at first base with the Royals, and the results were encouraging. He started 2019 playing second base every day for the Brewers and then made the switch back his usual home of third base at the beginning of May. His stats at both positions were very close to breaking even. He’s a glass-half-full, half-empty type defender. But the versatility that he showed has value.

 

I know, I know, you’re screaming at me that the Blue Jays already have someone to play third and second base in Cavan Biggio and Guerrero Jr. Well, let’s talk about those players. Vladdy’s defence was a talking point in 2019, and many were left wondering not if, but when his move to first base will happen. I’m not at that point yet. I think he has one of the best arms in the league from the hot corner. Limiting that asset at first so quickly would be a shame.

 

The main criticism was his conditioning. And it showed in the fielding metrics as well as the number of games he played. Again, I’m not as worried about it as others are, but I can see the concern. Here’s him working out with the gang last month – looking good, Vladdy!

 

I have confidence in him. But if for whatever reason he’s not able to play the field full time, then Moustakas is head over heels a better option than Drury.

 

Now, Biggio is interesting because although he primarily plays second, he comes advertised as being able to play a corner OF spot as well as first base. I’m not suggesting a full-time switch at all. His defence at second wasn’t fantastic, but it was passable. In 735.1 innings, he produced -1 DRS and -0.2 UZR/150. The fact that he can play a few other spots on the diamond is valuable. Whatever composition that gets you the best possible lineup is the one you should roll. But again, as long as it’s not at a huge detriment.

 

Mike Moustakas isn’t Kendrys Morales, by any means. The DH spot should be used to rotate these guys around and keep them in the lineup while resting their legs. They just aren’t making any more of Nelson Cruz or David Ortiz, unfortunately.

 

To summarize, if they can find 447 PA for Drury and 143 between Richard Urena, Alen Hanson and Breyvic Valera, then they should have no problem adding Moustakas to the mix.

 

Overall, hearing names like Moustakas tossed around is a reason to be optimistic. The team has nowhere to go but up, and the front office seems set on adding to the MLB roster. How much is yet to be seen, but baby steps are better than none.

 

 

 

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