The Toronto Blue Jays may be in a position to add top talent, but they may prefer some of these short term options
Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase
The Toronto Blue Jays are going to get better. At least that is what club President, Mark Shapiro said during his most recent press conference. But, with key contributors like Robbie Ray, Marcus Semien and Steven Matz set to hit free agency, that statement is rather interesting. It is difficult to envision a world where the team improves on their 91 win season and loses these guys at the same time. But, as Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi points out, it is possible. And, with a number of young stars requiring big money to keep them in uniform for a long time, money will not exactly be free flowing this winter.
The key line from Davidi’s piece (at least for me) is this: “…it could be a good time to explore adding some high-cost, short-term players who can supplement the team’s core now without limiting options for the future.” This is a logical approach, and one that is likely looking very good after the Semien deal of last winter. I won’t go into the need to sign shorter term deals here since you can read Davidi’s piece yourself. And, I am not going to suggest that short term deals are a MUST this winter. Instead, I will look at some possible short term candidates to consider. Obviously, I acknowledge that the goal of every free agent is to get the most money over a longer term, but some guys may not actually see that kind of deal. Semien took a one year deal and made the most of it, so it is possible there will be others.
Certain considerations need to be given to come up with the candidates below. Firstly, they need to be at an age where a one year deal makes sense. For example, a 37 year old starter may consider one, but will likely want multiple years since it is likely their last deal. As well, a free agent may only consider it if they can turn it into multiple years upon completion a la Semien. As well, there are some top free agents that will not have to consider one year deals given their elite-ness. So, knowing all of this and the fact that multi year deals are obviously the preference for free agents, let’s see if we can find some options. After each one, I indicate whether each has a HIGH or LOW likelihood of coming to Toronto.
Kris Bryant (29)- At 29 years old, Bryant MAY consider taking a one year deal should he find that the market isn’t as friendly as he’d like. He could be a third base option for Toronto in that case. He also plays the outfield, which he saw more of in 2021. Teams may not see him as a third base option like they once did. If that is the case, he could look for more money on a one year deal. That scenario seems unlikely, though. IF this were last winter, that may be the case, but he put 3.6 fWAR and a wRC+ of 123 in 2021, so he likely will not have to settle for one year. He’s also a right handed bat and Toronto will prioritize a lefty. Likelihood: LOW
Corey Dickerson (33)- After trading for Dickerson, Toronto benefited from his lefty bat to the tune of a .282 average, 4 home runs and a wRC+ of 107. He even chipped in 4 stolen bases. Having dealt with injuries, etc over recent years, he may have seen his value decrease. Toronto would have had a front row seat to his last two months and could make a logical estimate of his contributions next season. A one year deal, maybe with an option, certainly seems possible. Likelihood: HIGH
Kyle Schwarber (29)- After being non-tendered by Chicago in December, 2020 Schwarber signed a one year deal with the Nationals and was traded to the Red Sox last summer. He represents a lefty power bat that also put up a wRC+ of 145. He is still young enough if the market doesn’t buy his 2021 showing and forces him to sign a one year deal. That said, he will not be jumping to sign a one year deal unless the money is big enough. Toronto needs a lefty threat in their lineup. But, the issue with Schwarber (and Dickerson) is the number of outfielders that Toronto currently has. That could change with a trade or two, of course. If that is the case, Schwarber could be a consideration. However, he does have a mutual option on his one year deal and his playoff run with Boston could mean he won’t be available anyway. Likelihood: LOW
Joc Pederson (30)- Another lefty bat that comes with power is Mr Pederson. After signing a one year deal with Chicago, he was traded to Atlanta and is enjoying a nice little run, one that includes a rather dramatic home run against his former team. He hit 18 home runs in 2021 and put up a wRC+ of 94. His current contract includes a $10M option or a $2.5M buyout. Given his production in 2021, Atlanta could very well decide to pay the buyout, which would make him a free agent, but would he really be a big addition to the Blue Jays’ roster? More so than Dickerson? It’s doubtful. Likelihood: LOW
Chris Taylor (31)- Taylor is coming off a good year with the Dodgers where he hit 20 home runs and a wRC+ of 113 on his way to putting up 3.1 fWAR. He can play the outfield, particularly CF and the infield, particularly second. He does come with experience at third base, but put up -3 DRS in 81 innings. He’s a utility guy who provides versatility, but Toronto doesn’t really need another 2B/OF, especially one with a right handed bat. That said, he could be hard pressed to find a lucrative multi year deal. Even if that is the case, as much as I really like the player, the fit isn’t obvious. Likelihood: LOW
After looking at the bats, I turned my attention to pitching, which is where I really believe the Blue Jays can use their money to address what could be a potential gaping hole for them. This task proved to be more difficult than I would have thought. You have headliners like Max Scherzer, who at 37 could realistically see a 2 or 3 year deal. His reputation alone will get him more than one year. In fact, a lot of the starting pitcher options are older and not likely to sign a one year deal unless they are absolutely forced. Even then, it wouldn’t be a cheap one year. All this to say that there are a couple pitching options that are worth mentioning.
Noah Syndergaard (29)- I couldn’t resist looking at Thor. Ever since the All in Winter of AA, I have been missing Syndergaard. Since then, he’s had success riddled with injuries. 2017 saw him make just 7 starts while he missed all of 2020 and threw just two innings in 2021. Sure, he has 25 starts in 2018 and 32 the following year, but that just emphasizes the inconsistency he’s had. His once 100 mph fastball has lost velocity. Even considering all of that, it is not likely that the Mets are ready to give up on him. They could offer him the qualifying offer and he would be crazy not to take nearly $19M. Likelihood: LOW
Kendall Graveman (31)- Coming off a breakout season of sorts, Graveman is hitting free agency at the right time. His 1.77 ERA looks rather nice, but his 3.19 FIP suggests that his season wasn’t as good as first glance. Of course, a 3.19 FIP is still good and worth considering. Given the market for relief pitchers (think upwards of $10-$15M), teams may rush to get an effective arm on a discount. Graveman is not likely to be considered one of the top relief arms out there and may be able to be had. However, his 2021 success cannot be ignored and it would be surprising if he had to settle for a one year deal. Toronto could use their former farm hand in their bullpen (his 10 saves are also appealing), but a one year deal is not likely. Likelihood: LOW
When I sat down to write this post, I thought I’d be able to find some one year deals for the Blue Jays to consider. I’m sure there are some out there, but not one where the player is someone who could have an impact and help this team challenge for the division title. The names that could do that are not likely to sign one year deals. I suppose that “short term” doesn’t necessarily have to mean one year and contracts of two years could also work. But, that’s for another writer to figure out being that I have gone cross eyed from this exercise. I hereby conclude that, while Davidi has a point (shorter term, higher AAV) regarding how the Blue Jays should proceed and another Marcus Semien type deal/performance would be amazing, the reality of things may not agree with him.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
HEAD ON OVER TO THE JAYS FROM THE COUCH VS ALS STORE AND GET SOME GREAT SWAG THAT YOU WILL LOOK GREAT IN AND YOU CAN FEEL GREAT ABOUT.
YOU CAN ALSO HEAD TO OUR JAYS FROM THE COUCH VS ALS FUNDRAISING PAGE TO MAKE A TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATION DIRECTLY TO ALS CANADA.
THANK YOU FOR VISITING JAYS FROM THE COUCH! CHECK US OUT ON TWITTER @JAYSFROMCOUCH AND LIKE US FACEBOOK. BE SURE TO CATCH THE LATEST FROM JAYS FROM THE COUCH RADIO
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.