Blue Jays: Which potential free agents could be of interest next winter?

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 20: Justin Smoak #14 of the Toronto Blue Jays watches as he hits a game-winning solo home run in the ninth inning during MLB game action against the Tampa Bay Rays at Rogers Centre on September 20, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 20: Justin Smoak #14 of the Toronto Blue Jays watches as he hits a game-winning solo home run in the ninth inning during MLB game action against the Tampa Bay Rays at Rogers Centre on September 20, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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TORONTO, ON – APRIL 29: Russell Martin #55 of the Toronto Blue Jays makes the play and throws out the baserunner in the ninth inning during MLB game action against the Texas Rangers at Rogers Centre on April 29, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

Our Own

Last but not least I figured I’d mention a few of the Blue Jays’ own free agents who will hit the market next winter, even if it’s unlikely that a reunion will take place.

I’ll start with Russell Martin, mostly because I think there’s a good chance he is playing in a new uniform next season anyway. According to recent rumours it sounds like the Blue Jays are willing to eat some of his 20 million dollar salary for next year in order to trade him, which makes sense for all parties involved. The club has Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire ready to take over at the highest level, and Martin should still have something to give to a contender in need of catching help.

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There’s also Justin Smoak, who the Blue Jays’ exercised their option on for 2019. He’ll now make a bargain contract of just eight million next year, and should likely do better on the free agent market a year later. That said, free agency hasn’t been kind to first basemen or sluggers in general in recent years, and I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of him re-signing in Toronto. A lot will depend on the development of Rowdy Tellez at first base, and also if Vladimir Guerrero Jr can handle big league duties at the hot corner.

The third significant free agent will be Kendrys Morales, who some Blue Jays fans would love to see cut right now. After struggling mightily in the first couple of months last year, Morales became arguably the Blue Jays’ best hitter the rest of the way, and appeared to have regained the confidence that he had lost in the spring.

He’s viewed as a significant mentor for the younger group, especially Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and that role should have value to the Blue Jays front office. I sincerely doubt it’ll result in an extension beyond 2019 though, so Morales will probably be looking for another gig after the upcoming season. It’s also possible he could be looking to extend his career at all, especially since the game has really shifted away from DH only players. That said, if he hits as well as he did in the second half of last year, he’ll likely find a job somewhere on a one year deal.

It’s also possible that others could hit this list after being non-tendered a year from now. That fate could await for Pillar or even Devon Travis if they’re still with the team in a year,, although I expect both to become trade candidates at some point next season.

Next. The right call to keep Pillar, for now. dark

The bottom line is this team is evolving, and while I don’t expect that they’ll be very active in the deep end of the free agent pool this year, that could change a year or two from now. In the right situation, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Blue Jays keeping their eyes peeled now, and looking ahead to what might come on the market in another season or two.