The Toronto Blue Jays could benefit from entertaining a couple of veteran free agents for the 2017 campaign currently representing Team Canada at the World Baseball Classic.
The Toronto Blue Jays first base conundrum continues to evolve and Justin Smoak‘s career circles the drain with each passing day the Jays could look to veteran first baseman Justin Morneau to hold down the fort until Rowdy Tellez is ready to step in full-time.
The 35-year old Morneau has struggled with injuries over the past two seasons but in the not so distant past did win the National League batting title in 2014 with the Colorado Rockies. There is no question that the native of New Westminster, British Columbia could provide an offensive upgrade over Smoak even at this stage of his career.
Morneau sports a career .281/.348/.481 slash line with 247 home runs in 1545 career games. Even as a lefty his career splits are not terrible batting .253 versus southpaws and .295 against righties. The Canadian won the American League MVP award in 2006 while with the Minnesota Twins.
The four-time All-Star earned $1 million last season with the Chicago White Sox and could be a cheap placeholder for the Blue Jays if the veteran has a productive WBC tourney.
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The second free agent who could provide some upside is former closer, Eric Gagne. The 41-year hurler is hitting the low nineties with his fastball and has looked effective thus far pitching a scoreless inning on Tuesday versus the Blue Jays.
Gagne last pitched in the majors in 2008 with the Milwaukee Brewers but is best remembered for his days with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 2003 Gagne garnered the CY Young award honors saving 55 games and notching a minuscule 1.20 earned run average while fanning 137 batters in 82.1 innings.
The burly right-hander was effective facing both righties and lefties during his prime limiting lefties to a .203 batting average and righties to a nearly flawless .179 average. The native of Montreal could be had on the cheap with an incentive laden contract if the Blue Jays were so inclined.
As Morneau would be an upgrade over Smoak, I would be willing to bet Gagne could easily be as effective as Aaron Loup retiring lefties.
The Blue Jays front office should think outside the box when constructing their roster for the upcoming season and who knows maybe Canada is housing that diamond in the rough they require.