While it looks like the Blue Jays may be done adding to their 40 man roster for now, there are still several useful free agents available worth considering.
Now that Spring Training has officially begin and the Blue Jays are in a rebuild year, it’s probably safe to assume they’re done shopping on the free agent market. Then again, there are still several options that make a great deal of sense for Ross Atkins and company to consider, and I’m not talking about Bryce Harper, even if that would make sense too.
I could make solid arguments for the likes of Dallas Keuchel, or even Marwin Gonzalez, and we’ve actually done that here at Jays Journal over the course of the offseason. That they’re still available does’t make them any less appealing, but I’ve accepted that the Blue Jays likely aren’t going to be adding significant payroll at this point in the winter.
With that in mind, there are still several potential options that could make a lot of sense for the Blue Jays should they wish to add to their 40 man roster. Truthfully I think the position player side of things is already pretty packed as it is, but I wouldn’t mind seeing the team add another pitcher or two before Opening Day.
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While I expect the Blue Jays will roll with a rotation that features Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Ryan Borucki, Matt Shoemaker, and Clayton Richard, a lot can happen before Opening Day. I sincerely doubt that Stroman or anyone else is going to be traded at this stage of the offseason, but the possibility still remains, especially after some media interaction the other day that was less than ideal. It’s also no guarantee that any of the pitchers stay healthy throughout the Spring, especially Sanchez and Shoemaker, who have both missed the majority of the last two seasons.
I actually don’t mind the group to start the year, especially knowing that the Blue Jays have other feasible options like Sean Reid-Foley, Thomas Pannone, Trent Thornton, and potentially others who could step in. That said, there are a couple of veterans on the open market that could be quite useful to the Blue Jays this year, and could even turn into decent trade chips. Most notably I would point to Gio Gonzalez, and Ervin Santana.
Gonzalez was his typical innings-eating self last year, and he could likely provide the same in Toronto on what will now likely be a bargain-basement type of salary. He would provide the Blue Jays with a safer commodity to take the ball every fifth day than what they have, and they could slide Richard into the bullpen if need be, as he’s got plenty of experience in that role as well. In Santana the Blue Jays would be betting on a bounce back after an injury-riddled 2018 campaign, but he was rock solid the year before, and could likely be had on a MiLB contract right now.
As far as the bullpen goes, I do think the Blue Jays could use another left-hander, at least to start the year. I like the potential that Tim Mayza brings to the table, and I realize that having left-handed specialists isn’t as important in a rebuilding year, but they can have a lot of value by the time the trade deadline rolls around. Richard could be that guy if he were in the ‘pen, but if the Blue Jays wanted to look to the market there are still veterans like Tony Sipp and Boone Logan, and they’re not going to be expensive. From the right side, the bullpen would likely improve with the additions of Adam Warren, Nick Vincent, Bud Norris, or possibly several others.
Of course, it’s possible that Atkins is keeping his eye on what other teams are doing, especially in relationship to their own 40 man rosters. Once we get closer to Opening Day we’ll see other potentially useful players become available, and it’s possible that there is a player or two in the back of the front office’s mind who could become available.
After the addition of John Axford last week it’s likely that they’re done shopping for now, but a few sore shoulders or elbows could change that in a hurry, especially this late in the offseason. If it comes to something like that, there are still way too many decent options on the market, even if they’re not willing to fish in the deep end.