For the Blue Jays, there is lots of offseason remaining, but after adding pieces to their roster, one has to wonder if they are done
The Toronto Blue Jays have renewed a buzz around their team with their offseason moves. As of January 1, 2020, they have improved their rotation rather nicely by bringing back Matt Shoemaker, trading for Chase Anderson, signing Tanner Roark and Hyun-Jin Ryu and grabbing Shun Yamaguchi as depth. They’ve brought in what they hope will be a bounce back candidate in Travis Shaw. If that gamble pays off, they will have scored a rather impactful infielder. They’ve also added a couple of bullpen pieces in Anthony Bass and A.J. Cole. On paper, the Blue Jays look to be a better team this coming season.
Of course, with six weeks remaining before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training and the 2020 season not starting for months, there is plenty of time for Toronto to pull off another deal or two…or three. What you’ll likely see is a January signing of potential bullpen pieces in the hopes that either they will luck out on an arm or two, or they will have landed themselves a potential trade chip for July. Either way, it would be silly to think that zero moves will be made by the time the season starts.
That said, barring some huge trade that brings in a center fielder or another starter (looking at you, Boston), one has to think the heavy lifting is pretty much done for the Blue Jays. There are still free agents out there that could provide some nice pop in the lineup, but they are mostly expensive corner outfielders, which Toronto is not really in the market for.
So, with that in mind, it is entirely possible that the roster we see right now is, for the most part, the roster that will take the field to start this coming season.
When the offseason began, I looked at just how much improvement is reasonable to expect from the Blue Jays. In it, I did some sketchy math en route to the point that it wouldn’t take much for this team to get back to .500. By replacing Edwin Jackson, Aaron Sanchez, Socrates Brito et al, they could almost accidentally stumble into more wins. The moves they’ve made just kind of guarantees an improvement…as much as there are guarantees in baseball, of course.
As of right now, how they go about making these improvements is an interesting exercise in roster projection. For example, the starting rotation looks to be Ryu, Anderson, Shoemaker, Roark with the likes of Ryan Borucki and Trent Thornton battling it out for the 5th spot. The remainder of guys like Jacob Waguespack, Anthony Kay and T.J. Zeuch will either head to Buffalo to join Nate Pearson in that rotation, or be given consideration for a bullpen job.
The infield looks pretty set with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Rowdy Tellez, Shaw and Breyvic Valera. Brandon Drury will likely be included on the roster, though he does have an option remaining, according to Fangraphs. The catching situation in Toronto is something other teams drool over. Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire are poised to form a rather nice tandem behind the plate, pushing each other to perform.
The outfield is where the club really could look to make improvements, but since they did not win the Shogo Akiyama sweepstakes, which would have been very affordable for Toronto, one can assume they are comfortable standing pat with the plethora of internal options available to them.
Randal Grichuk will be back, but his role is a little unclear. He is a right fielder who will be called upon to play some center. However, he will not be the only one. In fact, Fangraphs projects 5 different guys playing CF. Ideally, Anthony Alford, who is out of options, takes the job and runs with it. His athleticism is made for center, but he’s not been able to develop consistency at the plate, certainly not at the big league level.
Barring that, you can bet Derek Fisher will be given time to see what he can do. Also out of options, Fisher has the eye of Toronto’s front office and fans are waiting to see why. Perhaps, he will show that in 2020. The 26 yr old has lots of experience (mostly in the minors) in CF, so this isn’t a crazy idea. The real question is whether his performance will be worthy of an every day job. The outfield probably presents the most unclear mix with no one person really having a position all to themselves. On the one hand, you can call this flexibility and on the other, you can call it scrambling on the part of management.
With so much offseason left to go, it would be pretty frustrating to hear a team is done making moves to improve. And, Toronto’s front office will tell you they are always looking to get better. But, realistically speaking, the Blue Jays could be done right now and it wouldn’t be the end of the world. They would be entering the 2020 season with fewer questions remaining and positive gains having been made.
They haven’t assembled All Stars at each position or built an Empire like some other teams. But, in the context of coming off 95 losses in 2019, this coming season looks to be much improved. Sure, things still need to be played out and guys have to stay healthy and perform (did I mention they need to stay healthy?). But, if the Toronto Blue Jays came out and said they were not going to make any more moves to speak of (there will likely be MiLB deals for bullpen arms), it wouldn’t be the worst news.
There’s a renewed buzz around the Toronto Blue Jays. It’s not because they will win a Championship in 2020, but because as of right now, they look to be better than last year. It would be just fine if the season started today.
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.