Where do the Toronto Blue Jays stand going as the 2019 MLB season winds down? What moves could they look to make over the offseason?
To say that the Toronto Blue Jays‘ 2019 campaign has been a tale of two halves would be an understatement.
As we have seen a formerly anemic offence come alive over the late summer months and a young pitching staff begin to get its footing, the projected date for a return to truly competitive baseball has only drawn closer. So, are the Blue Jays in a position to buy, sell, or do a little bit of both this coming offseason? Let’s discuss.
For starters, it certainly isn’t time to back up the Brinks truck for a big-name free agent. While this coming free-agent class does boast some tempting options (Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon and Josh Donaldson, to name a few), it just doesn’t feel like the time yet to go all-in on winning, with some of the core prospects in the Blue Jays system still developing.
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Selling also doesn’t look like it will be the theme of the off-season either. Other than some holdover veterans like Justin Smoak and Ken Giles, the Jays don’t have many pieces that would command the type of return the Blue Jays are looking for. Could a Brandon Drury or Wilmer Font be playing in a different uniform next season? Sure, but there won’t be much in the way of turnover going into 2020.
With Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and company leading the way offensively, pitching now becomes the big need for the Blue Jays. While the lack of quality arms is somewhat of a self-created shortage, there are always arms available on the cheap, prime for taking a flyer on, and that is likely what the Blue Jays will look to do this offseason.
Matt Shoemaker was off to a great start in 2019, until a torn ACL suffered in Oakland ended his season and added another blemish on an already spotty bill of health. If Shoemaker can pick up where he left off and put together a full season, he could be one of those Tampa Bay Rays-esque bargain bin finds that pays off. A middle of the road starter (like an Alex Wood or a Chase Anderson) on a short-term deal might be the motive, but a superstar signing would be surprising.
So, if now isn’t the time for a big splash, then when should we expect it? With their own come-up over the past few months and the collective fall-offs of the Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians, the Blue Jays look like they could be contending for a wild card berth in next season’s playoffs.
So why not try to challenge the big dogs of the American League now? Well, because there really is no rush. Another full year of big-league play for the likes of Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. can only help them get more acclimatized to MLB pitching. Plus, with another year of continued development at every level from Buffalo to Dunedin, the Blue Jays will be able to hit the ground running with their full stable of prospects in 2021.
Want another reason to wait a year or two more to open up the pocketbooks? Look at the upcoming free-agent classes. The class of 2020-21 features big-name outfielders like Mookie Betts, George Springer, Giancarlo Stanton (opt-out) and David Peralta, and pitchers such as Trevor Bauer, James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka, all perennial all-stars who could fill a hole for the Blue Jays. But, if the front office chooses to exercise restraint as this class comes and goes, some treats await in the class of 2021-22.
To say this bunch of FAs is one of the best groups in years is not hyperbole. While it goes a little light on outfielders, with the best one available being Michael Conforto, the arms race will be in full force. Noah Syndergaard, Corey Kluber, Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Mike Foltynewicz, Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, Brad Hand. That’s monstrous.
Yes, some of these arms might be tailing off a little as they reach the crescendo of their careers, but that list reads like a who’s who of hurlers. Patience will be necessary, but this could be where the Jays find their ace.
So, one more year of (relative) thrift shopping before pushing all of the chips to the centre of the table? An outfielder in ’20-21 and a pitcher in ’21-22? Say screw it and go all in now based on a couple of months of Bo Bichette? Who knows? The Jays might not even need a big-name free agent if Nate Pearson and Anthony Kay develop into staff aces. For me, where the Blue Jays find themselves as the 2019 season winds down is a little precarious.
One false big-money move and the perennially teetering tower that is a rebuild in professional sports could come crashing down. The Blue Jays will make some moves this offseason that will be in the interest of adding more W’s to the win column in 2020. Just don’t expect them to break the bank. Yet.
What do you think the Blue Jays will be planning to do heading into the off-season? Should they hold off from making a big splash or should they invest in a way to be competitive down the road? Let us know in the comments below.