Blue Jays 2019: Early potential offseason targets
The offseason is looming and while it’s early, it’s time to start thinking about some potential players the Blue Jays could target in the winter.
It’s an offseason in which the front office will look for veteran players to complement a young team. Expect one or perhaps two-year deals that don’t involve a lot of money, simply because the Blue Jays want financial flexibility once the full wave of prospects gets to the big leagues, which is expected to be around 2020. Here are some players who have strong upsides, veteran presence, and have been, for the most part, regular performers in their major league careers.
Tyson Ross- RHP
The 31-year-old is having a decent comeback season after having a terrible 2017 season and missing almost entirely the 2016 campaign. He has an 8-9 record between the San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals, who claimed Ross off waivers from the Padres on August 5th.
In 29 games, 23 of them were started, he has posted a solid 4.11 ERA in 146.2 innings. The Blue Jays have Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Ryan Borucki, Thomas Pannone, Sean Reid-Foley and Sam Gaviglio as their starters for next year, as Marco Estrada is hitting free agency at the end of the season. However, they might want to add a proven starter to the rotation with some veteran presence and experience to go along the young pitchers.
A scenario with Stroman, Sanchez, Borucki, who has definitely earned a chance to start the 2019 season in the rotation, and one more starter like Ross for example, while having Reid-Foley, Pannone and Gaviglio compete for the 5th role is a preferable scenario to get through the season.
Dallas Keuchel- LHP
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If you look at this potential target from a pure baseball perspective, then it is an extremely good fit for the Blue Jays. However, from a contract perspective, it might not be as good. Dallas Keuchel has been extremely efficient and durable in his last five seasons with the Houston Astros. His 2018 numbers are once again, very solid, which is why the contract he’ll look for in the offseason might not enter Blue Jays plans. He has posted a 3.57 ERA in 191.2 innings among 31 starts for the 2017 World Series Champions.
Keuchel’s velocity has remained the same but his strikeout and ground ball rate per nine innings have gone down while his ERA is half a run higher than it was last season. His durability, veteran presence, and consistent performances are certainly very valuable to any team. The Blue Jays need to add a starter this offseason, and if the market for Keuchel is weaker than expected, they could try signing him to a two-year deal and convince him and the awesome beard come to Toronto.
Adam Jones- OF
The longtime Oriole could be another offseason target. He’s a team leader, who’s a great example and could be very helpful for many young players. Something worth mentioning is that Adam Jones is a close friend of rookie catcher Danny Jansen, as Jansen’s family hosted him when he was a minor leaguer. They treat each other as ‘brothers’.
However, this fit is hard to envision with the current outfield picture that consists of Billy Mckinney, Teoscar Hernandez, Randal Grichuk, and Kevin Pillar. The latter one has had a very bad season offensively and, surprisingly, defensively. Pillar’s value was in his defence but he has -6 defensive runs saved this season, down from 15 runs saved in 2017. The Blue Jays could think of trading away Kevin Pillar if his value is down to create a free spot in the outfield, and to bring in a free agent like Adam Jones. He would not only bring better offensive numbers, but great leadership and maturity to a young team.
Cody Allen- RHP
The only reason why closer Cody Allen is in this list is due to his past with Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro and General Manager Ross Atkins. Atkins was the director of player development of the Cleveland Indians when Cody Allen was drafted and made his way up to the big leagues. On the other hand, Mark Shapiro was the Indians president at that same time. Therefore, it’s safe to say, they like and know Cody Allen, which makes you wonder if Ross Atkins will want Allen to be its bullpen leader for the coming years.
The 29-year-old will be looking for a good contract this offseason and considering the deals relievers signed in last years offseason, he will get paid, something I don’t expect the Blue Jays to do this offseason. The current Indians closer had an 89.7 save percentage between 2015 and 2017 which is great. This year, however, its gone down to 84.4% and his BB/9 has gone up from 2.8 to 4.4. His ERA is also at 4.10, the highest in his career. His numbers are weaker this season but they’re still solid and his previous seasons will get him a good contract.
A potential deal between the Blue Jays and Indians closer this offseason is a very long shot but considering his relationship with Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins, do not rule it out, the Jays could show some interest.