the Toronto Blue Jays have traded for third baseman the Toronto Blue Jays have traded for third baseman the Toronto Blue Jays have traded for third baseman

Josh Donaldson a Blue Jay; Now What?

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So by now you all know that the Toronto Blue Jays have traded for third baseman Josh Donaldson from the Oakland Athletics. I’m not going to delve into analysis of the trade. There are plenty of articles out there already talking about that. But what now? The Jays have shown their cards. They’re making it clear that they won’t be content sneaking into second place in 2015; they’re planning on ending a 21 year drought and making the playoffs in 2015.

Before they can get there though, they still have a lot of holes that need to be filled before the season starts. You don’t sign a catcher on the wrong side of 30 to a five-year contract, and trade a 24-year-old third baseman and 3 prospects for an upgrade at third base without having plans to plug the rest of your holes. Who’s going to play left field? Second base? DH? Who’s coming out of the bullpen? Knowing the way Alex Anthopoulos works, we’re not going to hear about it until a deal is finalized. However, we can all speculate. Here are some options the Jays can look at.

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  • Outfield/Designated Hitter:

    Melky Cabrera, OF, Free Agent

    Resigning Melky Cabrera remains a very possible scenario. Josh Donaldson is entering his first of four arbitration years as a Super-Two player and should allow the Jays to still make at least one more big splash before the season starts. Melky Cabrera seemed to be very close to his teammates, and despite a report that just came out stating that Melky Cabrera would prefer signing elsewhere so that he wouldn’t have to play on the artificial turf, money talks. And there’s no doubting that the Jays have it to spend. Melky enjoyed a resurgent year as the #2 hitter for the Jays in 2014, and having his switch-hitting bat hit before the quartet of Bautista/Encarnacion/Donaldson/Martin would automatically give the team one of the best offenses in the league.

    Jay Bruce, OF, Cincinnati Reds

    The Cincinnati Reds are coming off a down year and have shopped some of their veteran players, including outfielder Jay Bruce. Bruce, like the Reds, struggled in 2014. But he’s signed to a very team friendly contract for the next three years, and he’s a power hitting left-handed outfielder, hitting 30+ home runs each year from 2011-2013. The Jays haven’t had a left-handed hitter do that since 2009. He’s not without faults of course. He strikes out A LOT. He’s coming off a season where he hit .217. And despite the fact that he’s coming off a down year, he won’t come cheap. Do the Jays have what it takes to acquire him after trading three prospects in the Donaldson trade? And can they possibly do it without trading any of the trio of Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, and Daniel Norris?

    Second Base:

    Sean Rodriguez, INF, Tampa Bay

    There aren’t many options available via trade and free agency when it comes to potential starters at second base. The Jays traded OF Anthony Gose for what some consider to potentially be a future starting second baseman in Devon Travis, but most people seem to believe that Travis will need more seasoning in the minors before being ready for the big leagues. Cue Sean Rodriguez. Tampa Bay just designated Sean Rodriguez for assignment, meaning Tampa has ten days to either trade him, release him, or have him pass through waivers and sent outright to the minor leagues. Rodriguez isn’t a permanent solution, but as a one year stop-gap, they could do worse. It won’t cost much to take him off the Rays hands if the Jays are afraid he won’t clear waivers. He can also play multiple positions all over the field, so if an opportunity presents itself to upgrade at second base, Rodriguez can shift into a utility role off the bench.

    Asdrubal Cabrera, INF, Free Agent

    If the Jays aren’t interested in Rodriguez, Asdrubal Cabrera is another option available. Like Rodriguez, he isn’t an ideal long-term solution, but there just aren’t any long-term solutions available at second base this off-season. He’s a switch hitter who’s had similar results against both left-handed and right-handed pitching. He provides moderate power, averaging 37 doubles and 15 home runs per 162 games, and won’t kill you on the bases. He’s not known as a solid defender, and he won’t hit for a high average, but is still one of the better options in this weak market. He will most likely wind up with a multi-year contract because of the market, and one has to wonder if Anthopoulos would be better served looking elsewhere.

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    Bullpen:

    The bullpen is the Jays biggest weakness. Brett Cecil, Aaron Loup, and Todd Redmond are pretty much guaranteed spots to begin the 2015 season. Aaron Sanchez will also earn a spot in the bullpen if he’s unable to win a spot in the starting rotation. That leaves a minimum of three spots up for grabs. One, maybe two, of those open spots could potentially be filled internally. However with the Blue Jays showing that they’re going for broke in 2015, one would expect them to sign at least two bullpen arms from the plethora of options available to them. I won’t dive into the options available to the Blue Jays, as i recently wrote an article about it here.

    The off-season is still young. The winter meetings haven’t started yet, and the Jays have been involved in rumours daily since the World Series ended. Still, there is a lot of work left to be done. The moves they’ve made so far have improved the team drastically over the product they put on the field in 2014. However these moves require more moves in order for them to be as effective as possible. Upgrading at catcher and at third base doesn’t mean anything if you don’t address the massive holes left in the outfield and the bullpen. Alex Anthopoulos’ early aggression so far this off-season has shown that the Jays are out for blood in 2015 though, and every team in the AL East needs to watch their backs. It should be a fun final four months between now and the start of the regular season.

    What moves would you like to see the Jays make? How do you feel the off-season has gone so far? Give us your thoughts in the comment section below!