The Toronto Blue Jays have been really quiet this winter, but that hasn’t stopped the media pundits from invoking the name of baseball’s northern-most team in connection with any available free agent. While we have grown accustomed to this in regards to the remaining pitchers left on the market, there have been few reports of the Blue Jays being tied to any position players at this point in the season.
Until now that is.
According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports, moonlighting on MLB Network in his spare time, the Blue Jays are in the mix for a pair of prominent infielders still on the market, in shortstop Stephen Drew and first baseman/DH Kendrys Morales.
Stephen Drew has been attached to just about any team still in need of a middle infielder, including the Mets, Yankees, and Red Sox, with the latter two considered the favorites to reel him in. To hear the Blue Jays in the mix is a bit surprising. Yes, Toronto has a need at second base it could still address this winter and Drew’s camp (aka Scott Boras) has stated his client is willing to play anywhere in the infield, so there is a match there. They also have two protected first-round picks, making the loss of draft pick for Drew only a second-rounder for Toronto. Drew did make a successful comeback last season with the Boston Red Sox, which presumably is why he turned down a qualifying offer after the season, but his postseason where he went 6 for 54 (.111) and racked up 19 strike-outs in the process may leave a sour taste in the mouth of some prospective buyers.
Morales is an interesting story in his own right. Heyman qualifies Toronto’s interest by noting that the Blue Jays would need to find a buyer for incumbent DH Adam Lind, noting that the Pirates and Blue Jays talked earlier this winter about Lind. Morales could then be brought in on a multi-year deal and then split duties with Edwin Encarnacion at both DH and first base. Morales has been steady over the last two seasons, spent in Los Angeles and Seattle, hitting .275 with a .786 OPS and averaging 22 home runs and 76 RBI over that span. Like Drew, the switch-hitter would cost Toronto a pick (again 2nd round).
That all said, while both players carry a certain level of appeal to the Blue Jays, both would require allocation of funds that would otherwise be earmarked to solve the team’s pitching needs. Drew could give the Jays the glove-work they want at second base, and his bat is solid for a middle infielder, but his tendency for prolonged slumps and his track record of poor health outside of 2013 make him doubtful at best. Morales could be a big bat, and his ability to switch hit makes him appealing, trading Lind to spend more (and give up a pick) on a lateral move to Morales would not seem to serve much good for this team, and in fact could be a detriment to the Jays’ pursuits next winter.
So while there is a lot of wind blowing here, I don’t hold out much hope of Toronto picking up either of these contracts.