Could Blue Jays go against the grain with outfield splash?


The Blue Jays still seem comfortable in the outfield without Revere, but much like Russell Martin in 2015, they could still add to a position of relative strength

Regardless of what unfolds with Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, the Blue Jays have secured a new core for future seasons in Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin. Could the Blue Jays conceivably add more talent to the window of that latter group, however, with a surprise signing of one of Yoenis Cespedes or Justin Upton

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At the beginning of this offseason that very notion would have been ridiculed (and probably still could be). But the market on these two impact outfielders has lasted through to mid-January and one or both could struggle to meet their initial market expectations. Both in terms of contract length or average annual value

The Toronto Blue Jays could emerge as a surprise team under either of these scenarios.

With the recent trade of Ben Revere to the Washington Nationals, questions have been raised over who will fill his spot in left field (hoping for their leadoff man for 2016 in the same player may be pushing it a bit). Michael Saunders and Dalton Pompey are expected to battle for the position.

Though, both of these players come with question marks of their own. Saunders was limited to 8 games last year due to injury, not to mention all his previous injury issues that have limited the Canadian to 219 games since the start of 2013. At the same time Pompey is unseasoned, inexperienced and raw (though not untalented by any means).

Enter a player like Cespedes or Upton.

While I will be the first to admit this could be very unlikely, imagine one of those two lined up with the already dangerous murderers row the Blue Jays boast. Both in 2016 and beyond, when the lineup could need another bat of that calibre.

There would be not a team in the league that could boast a more feared lineup than one with Donaldson, Bautista, Encarnacion, Tulowitzki and Cespedes/Upton sitting in the middle of it.

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If brought in on a medium-length deal (more likely for Upton, of course), one of them would instantly become part of the “new Blue Jays core”. With Bautista and/or Encarnacion leaving following this season, the Jays have set themselves up nicely with a backup plan of Donaldson, Tulo and Martin.

While that is already nothing to scoff at, no Blue Jays fan would disagree with another slugger thrown into the mix.

And in the short term, it would line up with Toronto’s need to maximize their 2016 window to win with their Dominican star sluggers still in Blue Jays uniforms.

You may be asking yourself “where is the money for this coming from?”

And that is a fair question. But with reports on the Jays possible interest in trading R.A Dickey (which all spawned from a tweet from Jeff Blair), that question mark may have a potential answer. While the report has been disagreed with elsewhere, Dickey’s salary and the lack of a no-trade clause do allow for the potential.

While losing Dickeys “guaranteed” innings could hurt, the Jays have set themselves up nicely with acquisitions like J.A. Happ and Jesse Chavez to be creative when it comes to filling those innings. Mark Shapiro does seem intent on adding further depth to the rotation, as well.

So now that it looks a bit more realistic financially and talent-wise, we can move on from those two more obvious candidates.

Just because Upton or Cespedes don’t end up being the target of such intentions, doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of other options on the market.

First one that comes to mind is Chris Davis.

While from the outside he may not seem like the obvious choice, he would help not only with adding a left-handed slugging presence to the Jays lineup, but also bring versatility.

Primarily a 1st baseman in his career, he recently spent some time learning the art of playing a corner outfield with 253.1 innings in 2015.

This could lead to some interesting scenarios with Toronto.

This could set him up to replace either Bautista OR Encarnacion in their respective positions, therefore giving the Jays brass a full season to decide who of the two makes more sense moving forward.

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Another lower level outfield option could be Dexter Fowler.

Fowler, if brought aboard, could become a better or more reliable version (for now) of Dalton Pompey with 11.2 WAR over his past five seasons. He could back up all three outfield positions, getting himself a fair amount of at-bats, while keeping the starting 3 rested (that is if he couldn’t beat Saunders to a starting job).

Other options do exist out there. And we could end up seeing nothing of the like happening. Heading into last year’s offseason, were you expecting Russell Martin to come home to Canada?

But take a minute, lose a little sanity and just imagine.

It could be a beautiful thing!