JFtC Blue Jays Hot Stove

Blue Jays Should Focus on 3B Upgrade

The Toronto Blue Jays should focus on upgrading at third base, a move that would have ripple effects for 2021 and beyond


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The Toronto Blue Jays are heading into this offseason with fewer obvious question marks than they had a year ago. Several pitching options presented themselves in the shortened 2020 season and, even though you can never have enough pitching, it may not be as much of a priority as it looked previously. One area they really should focus on is the hot corner, though. Doing so could pay dividends for the team’s fortunes overall.

 

Recently, JFtC’s Karen Soutar wondered if Jonathan Davis is the Blue Jays CF of the future. Defensively speaking, he just might be. But, the obvious knock against him is his lack of offensive production. Well, an obvious upgrade at third base could go a long way to making the idea of carrying Davis’ bat more palatable.

 

In 2020, the Blue Jays’ third basemen ranked 28th in MLB with -1.1 bWAR. This is by far their weakest position. CF and catcher were tied at 22nd in MLB with -0.2 and -0.6 bWAR respectively. Perhaps, by replacing Randal Grichuk with Jonathan Davis, the Blue Jays can address their outfield deficiency. As for the backstop position, well…that’s another post entirely. Regardless, the options that Toronto called upon to play third in 2020 didn’t pan out. Travis Shaw wasn’t as bad as we feared, but he wasn’t as good as we’d hoped. Heck, the club turned to Cavan Biggio to take some reps there. The 3B situation needs attention.

 

The obvious answer, at least to this writer, involves another phone call to Brad Pitt in Oakland. If you tuned in to Ep233 of the JFtC podcast, you would have heard me share this view. Could Toronto pull off a Josh Donaldson 2.0 deal? Could Matt Chapman be the answer? The answer is an emphatic YES.

 

The 27 year old is coming off two full seasons where he put up 6+ fWAR in 2018 and 2019. Oh, and he was worth 30 and 34 DRS in those seasons. He ended his 2020 campaign having rather significant hip surgery. Automatically, many folks would say that Chapman would be a great addition, but what can the Blue Jays realistically expect from him post surgery? Can he rebound and be the defensive gem he was? Will he be the same guy who hit 60 HR and got on base in those two seasons? Even if he is, can they expect him to play a full season? Who knows.

 

But these questions are exactly why his value may be right in the wheelhouse of the Blue Jays. He is certainly a cost effective option, making $623k this past season and won’t be a free agent until 2024. He’s the kind of talent the Athletics would be able to charge a premium on, especially since the memory of trading Donaldson is likely still fresh…where is Brett Lawrie now? However, due to the nature of his surgery, can we really expect the A’s to ask for the moon? Sure, it’ll cost, but maybe not as much as we might think. I won’t get into speculating which players the A’s would ask for in return as it is almost impossible to guess what other teams value. The real point here is that Chapman would look oh, so good in Toronto’s lineup and would certainly make Davis playing CF easier to take.

 

Of course, Chapman is not the only option out there. One might turn one’s attention to Colorado where a rather expensive MVP candidate resides. Nolan Arenado would also be an addition worth exploring. Remember that this offseason will be an interesting one in that there is a CBA hanging over the heads of MLB and the MLBPA, there are also likely several teams looking to adjust their finances depending on how big the impact of Covid was on their bottom line…or at least how loudly they claim it was. Could the Rockies be looking to shed the $30M+ owed over the next 5 years? Would the Blue Jays even consider adding such an albatross? Likely not. Though, the 7 time Gold Glove winner would look so good in Toronto. Even if you consider hsi offensive numbers were inflated by playing in Coors Field, there is little doubt he would be an instant impactful upgrade…even if a pipe dream.

 

Another option was pointed out to me by JFtC writer, Jim Scott. Jim is always a knowledgeable, inquisitive guy and turned his attention to Korea. He mentioned Ha-Seong Kim and had this to say: “He will be posted by Kiwoom this offseason, and he is free to negotiate with all 30 teams, Exciting young team, 65k Korean speakers in Toronto, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Plays gold-glove level SS and above-average 3B.  25 years old.  In 2019 and 2020, Kim was a .306/.392/.505 hitter with a 141 wRC+ in the KBO.  ZiPS projects him as a 3.5 fWAR player in mlb – so not a 2019 Chapman, but a 2019 Justin Turner.” This very well could be a cost effective alternative for Toronto to consider. I like his 20+ HR/SB ability.

 

Register Batting
Year Lg PA R H 2B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2014 KBO 59 17 9 2 2 7 4 8 13 .188 .298 .396 .694
2015 KBO 582 89 148 35 19 73 22 56 115 .290 .362 .489 .851
2016 KBO 599 92 148 29 20 84 28 60 80 .281 .358 .477 .836
2017 KBO 601 90 159 36 23 114 16 58 65 .302 .376 .513 .889
2018 KBO 576 95 147 27 20 84 8 54 81 .288 .358 .474 .832
2019 KBO 625 112 166 38 19 104 33 70 80 .307 .389 .491 .880
2020 KBO 580 104 154 23 28 103 21 70 61 .310 .402 .530 .932
All 3622 599 931 190 131 569 132 376 495 .295 .373 .494 .867
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/13/2020.

 

Obviously, it is near impossible to predict how the Blue Jays will go about addressing their need for impact offense and much needed defensive improvements. The offseason hasn’t even started yet. There are so many things that could happen between now and the start of the 2021 season. Bargaining could break down and the 2021 season could be impacted. There are literally oodles of paths Ross Atkins could take to compliment this young roster that made the postseason.

 

One thing we know is that the Toronto Blue Jays have money and prospect capital to spend…should they choose to. Third base needs to be where they choose to spend. Doing so might even provide a defensive upgrade to the outfield. By focusing on one position, they solve two issues. Win win.

 

 

 

 

*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.

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Shaun Doyle

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.