Blue Jays: Trade route becoming more likely with exercised options
With teams around baseball making their decisions on player options, the potential choices in free agency have already thinned out a bit.
The Blue Jays will looking to fill several holes on their roster this offseason, and their efforts will have to ramp up in their very near future with free agency set to open this week. It’s expected that the Jays will look for a starting pitcher, bullpen upgrades, a back-up catcher, and likely some depth in both the infield and outfield.
While there are plenty of options available on the free agent market, the Blue Jays (and me, frankly) were hoping there would be a few more choices on the market, but unfortunately there are a few that have already come off the board.
As far as infield depth goes, the Blue Jays could be interested in Jedd Lowrie of the Oakland A’s, who has experience all over the infield, and had an underrated season at the plate. Unfortunately for the Jays, Lowrie’s option for six million was picked up for 2018, so they’ll have to work out a trade for him if they want to bring him to Toronto.
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Another name I had my eye on was Michael Brantley, who had his 11 million dollar option exercised by the Cleveland Indians this week. Brantley is a potential 5-tool type of player, but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy for several years. It looked like a possibility that he could become available, and the Blue Jays would have been expected to be in the mix if he had, especially with Mark Shapiro having been around the Cleveland organization during his peak years. That won’t be an option now, though.
A third name I could have saw the Blue Jays pursuing is left-handed reliever Jerry Blevins, who pitched with the New York Mets in 2017. He was a target the Blue Jays discussed last offseason when he was a free agent, and the Mets had an option for his 2018 contract, which they’ve picked up. The Mets could end up being a seller this offseason, but after they picked up the option on Astrubal Cabarera as well, it looks like they plan on being at least competitive.
And of course, Masahiro Tanaka also declined his option and chose to stay in New York for the next three years, although he likely wouldn’t have been an option in Toronto for 2018 anyway.
There are obviously many more, but I had hoped to see guys like Lowrie and Blevins in particular hit the market, and give Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro a few more options. It’s never that easy for a front office though, and it’s no surprise that the respective clubs want to retain control over players with value.
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We’ll be sure to keep you posted here at Jays Journal as the offseason develops. It should be an interesting one.