Blue Jays Morning Brew: Spring training ahead

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As the Blue Jays move closer to spring training in Dunedin, Florida with broadcast dates announced, we round up the best stories from the past few days

Spring broadcast schedule  –  Sportsnet has released the Blue Jays spring training broadcast schedule which will air 10 games beginning with one against the Orioles on March 4th. The coverage will also include the two Montreal games against the Boston Red Sox on April 1st and 2nd, which is quickly becoming one of the best parts of the Blue Jays calendar.

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A step back in 2015?  –  Shaun Doyle over at Jays From the Couch took a deeper look at the Blue Jays 2016 projections and how they stack up against last year in terms of WAR. The Blue Jays are projected to experience one of the league’s larger drop-offs, but I still find it difficult to agree with the depth of these projections.

While players like Kevin Pillar and Ryan Goins could conceivably take a step back after career years that may prove to be unsustainable, the traditionally conservative projection system is only projecting a 0.8 WAR increase for Troy Tulowitzki.

Spring uniforms released  –  Over at Blue Jay Hunter, Ian Hunter has some visuals on the Blue Jays new spring training uniforms. They’re… interesting.

The hat is a deep navy with a white outline of the Maple Leaf as the front logo, which is a strange match with the traditional blue uniforms, but I’m sure we’ll survive this challenge together.

To-do list update  –  Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportnet updates the Blue Jays offseason and where they stand in terms of contracts, pitching depth and the backup catcher position.

While more pitching depth can and should be expected as the Blue Jays approach opening day, having Josh Thole as the primary backup behind Russell Martin remains risky. Having him catch every fifth day when R.A. Dickey comes around is fine, but if Martin is to miss any extended amount of time, that could spell real trouble for the Jays.

Rotation outlook  –  Here’s an excellent piece from Tammy Rainey at Blue Jays Plus that looks at the 2016 rotation and how it projects in comparison to the rotation Toronto rolled out last season. While the rotation does project to be fairly similar in terms of potential WAR, much of this lies on Marcus Stroman‘s ability to reach his potential.

“Repeating the results of 2015 depends in large measure on Stroman being as good as we think he is based on past performance.”

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Jose & Edwin  –  Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi recently looked at the upcoming contract situations of sluggers Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista. Given the money thrown around over the past two months and the possibility that the National League adds a designated hitter in 2017, both players could be staring at a significant market value.

Complicating this process is the heavy commitments that Toronto has to Martin, Tulowitzki, Donaldson, Happ and Estrada next season, so with several pending free agents, negotiations with these big bats will not be black and white.