Credit: L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Which Blue Jays Are Replaceable Through Free Agency?

Alex Anthopoulos was his cryptic self when he spoke with Jim Bowden of ESPN on Sirius XM on Sunday. At least he was a tad more open than normal, providing some insight into the kind of work he is doing this off-season.

While most of his comments were still broad and vague, he did say something that might give a hint as to what kind of moves we may see:

But we’ve even called on positions we don’t have a need on because there have been some trade talks where some teams have asked about some guys that we don’t plan on trading but all of a sudden we get to fill some other holes and if we can back-fill through free agency and strengthen the club we would look to do that as well. Obviously a lot more complicated to do something like that but we’ve been open-minded and we’ve actually looked into some of those things as well.

Could this be Anthopoulos’ way of softening the blow for when some beloved Jays player gets traded away? Maybe. But the logic of it does make sense. Instead of shopping around and picking up spare parts to patch-up obvious holes—a catcher, a second baseman, a couple starting pitchers—it may be easier to trade from a position of strength, then look to replace who you lost.

Does this mean trading away Edwin Encarnacion or Jose Bautista for a big return? Probably not since it would be far too difficult to replace either of their bats from out of the lineup. Combined with the way they play their respective positions, such a move might only create bigger problems.

Brett Lawrie at 3B and Jose Reyes at SS are other positions of strength. But there’s little available, especially in free agency, to replace at either of those positions. This is why a formerly suspended Jhonny Peralta got $53 million over four years with the Cardinals.

All signs point to outfield and relief pitching. Aside from Bautista, the Jays can replace anyone in the outfield. We may not like the idea of losing someone like Colby Rasmus, who is a great defensive outfielder and projecting to have his biggest season yet. And we may not want to part with someone like Anthony Gose, who is still only 23 years old. For relief pitching, the Jays are strong enough there to lose Casey Janssen or Sergio Santos, and use the other as the closer. Keeping in mind that they should keep relief pitching as a strength, one arm can be replaced with relative ease.

When you put a package like that together—Rasmus and Gose, with Janssen or Santos—it sounds pretty good, and you should be able to get a decent return to solve some of your problems. Then you can go ahead and sign Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo. Hey, I can dream, it’s not my money.

Would you be willing to sacrifice a few great players in order to build a stronger team?

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