It’s been a very slow off-season for the Toronto Blue Jays to this point. There’s been very little activity directly involving the Blue Jays other than the solid addition of Aledmys Diaz from the St. Louis Cardinals.
It’s now Christmas Day and that’s been the only move of note so far despite all the activity around the Blue Jays that indirectly affects them. Regardless, it’s a festive time so here is my Blue Jays Christmas wishlist for roster additions post-Christmas day.
1. Starting Outfielder
It’s no secret that this team cannot contend with an outfield that features Kevin Pillar, Steve Pearce, and Ezequiel Carrera as the only current locks to fill outfield spots. In an ideal world, Pearce wouldn’t even be in the outfield. He’d DH if they can rid themselves of Kendrys Morales. But for now, Pearce is there with Carrera in one outfield spot leaving another vacant.
In a worst-case scenario, the team could let the likes of Teoscar Hernandez, Anthony Alford, Dalton Pompey, and Dwight Smith Jr. battle it out for a spot, but the front office likely wants those 4 to start the year in Buffalo which means an outfielder would be a welcome addition. The only question is who that would be.
Based on the front office seemingly betting on the roster to bounce back to form with health and closer to career norms for production, it’s likely a free agent outfielder won’t be a big one like Lorenzo Cain barring his price tag coming down. If I could take Carlos Gonzalez on a 1 year prove it deal, he would fit perfectly on the Blue Jays. Gonzalez has a good 2016 season followed by a below replacement level season in 2017. Should Gonzalez bounce back to 2016 form, that’s an instant improvement on Jose Bautista. Other options include Jarrod Dyson or Carlos Gomez, but Gonzalez would be my top choice.
2. Starting Pitcher
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At the beginning of the off-season, my top target was Tyler Chatwood. That quickly fell off the table when he signed with the Chicago Cubs. Big names like Jake Arrieta, Yu Darvish, Lance Lynn, and Alex Cobb are all still on the market but I doubt the Blue Jays strongly pursue any of those three since they’re all going to be paid more than what they’re worth.
Like the outfield situation, a worst case scenario would be a battle between Joe Biagini, Chris Rowley, and Ryan Borucki for the 5th starters spot. The depth in Buffalo is much stronger for 2018 than it was a season ago. However, I’m sure they want all 3 to start in Buffalo.
Similar to the type of outfielder I think the Blue Jays want (a 1 year prove it deal), they’ll do the same with a 5th starter. There are plenty of options out there that could likely settle on a one year deal such as Chris Tillman, Matt Garza, Andrew Cashner, Clay Buchholz, or Jaime Garcia. If you’re betting on someone to bounce back, I think Chris Tillman would be the guy. However, if I had to pick between any of the 5 I listed above, Matt Garza would be intriguing due to his previous AL East success. At 1.0 fWAR last season, he’d already improved what the Blue Jays got from the 5th spot last year. Regardless, they need to add a starter.
3. Backup Catcher
The final wish on my Blue Jays Christmas wishlist is a backup catcher. The Blue Jays had a bit of a black hole behind Russell Martin all season. Plus, with Martin well on the wrong side of 30, they need a suitable backup who can produce. Martin needs his innings cut down in order to keep him fresh longer into the season.
There have been a few backups who have gone off the market already like Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta. There are a few names still available through free agency like Carlos Ruiz, A.J. Ellis, and Geovany Soto. All of these guys didn’t have the greatest seasons a year ago, but Carlos Ruiz was the best option out of all of the three I’ve listed.
If the Blue Jays want to pull off a trade, J.T. Realmuto would be a fantastic addition via trade, but the Miami Marlins will likely command a return greater than what the Blue Jays would be willing to give Miami. Still, it’s nice to dream.
Those three are the biggest priorities going forward. They’ve added a middle infielder, so they don’t need to push hard to add another. They will likely jump on a reliever late last season to find gold like they did with Joe Smith last year. An outfielder would be my top priority as of now and Carlos Gonzalez is on the top of my Toronto Blue Jays ultimate Christmas wishlist.
Merry Christmas everyone!