The Blue Jays are going to have some decisions to make with their 40 man roster in 2020, and hopefully they can turn quantity into quality this off-season.
As the Blue Jays wind down their 2019 season, it’s been good to see guys like Anthony Alford and even Derek Fisher in the lineup, if for no other reason than the front office needs to evaluate what they’ve got as much as they can.
We’ve talked about it here before here at Jays Journal, but because of the lack of minor league options for that duo and more, Ross Atkins and company may have to look to the trade market whether they want to or not. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, if they can make some roster upgrades that is.
At this point the major need on the Blue Jays roster is undoubtedly with the pitching staff, and with the starting rotation in particular. The front office could choose to address it in free agency, but there’s also a good chance that they’ll explore the trade market in that area as well. If and when they do, hopefully they’ll be able to turn some of the roster quantity that they’ve compiled into more quality pieces for this rebuild.
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The first place of quantity that I’m talking about would be the outfield, as I’ve already alluded to by mentioning Fisher and Alford. In addition to those two, the Blue Jays will have Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Randal Grichuk, Teoscar Hernandez, Billy McKinney, and Jonathan Davis. Gurriel Jr. and Grichuk are pretty much locks as starters, but the rest of the group has really failed to separate themselves from the pack for one reason or another. The audition could continue for most or all of them next season, but with Alford, Fisher, and Hernandez out of minor league options, something will likely have to give.
So a trade package might start with an outfielder, and fortunately the Blue Jays have developed a bit of a surplus at other positions as well. I wrote recently about how I hope the Blue Jays decide to hang on to both Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire for the foreseeable future, but that’s not the end of the catching talent in their system. Guys like Alejandro Kirk and Riley Adams had solid minor league seasons and are among the Blue Jays top 30 prospects. There’s also Luke Maile, who could be retained as he enters his first year of arbitration eligibility and still holds value as a MLB back-up, even if his time in Toronto is likely up.
There’s also the underrated depth that’s developed in the infield, and I’m not talking about the players that have already arrived. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio‘s spots are written in ink for next season and beyond, and that means the Blue Jays can likely deal from their middle infield depth in particular. I don’t think Jordan Groshans is going anywhere any time soon, but Atkins might choose to trade someone like a Santiago Espinal, Kevin Smith, or maybe Logan Warmoth. With a younger wave of players like Orelvis Martinez, Miguel Hiraldo, and Leonardo Jimenez, among others, I’m willing to bet they’ll trade from their shortstop pool at some point, even if it’s not this winter.
Put it together and the Blue Jays could offer some interesting packages this off-season, even if they’re not necessarily going to bring back an elite starter, or even a no-doubt centre fielder. But if you’re offering a hypothetical package of Teoscar Hernandez, Alejandro Kirk, and Kevin Smith, that could certainly peak some interest. With the Blue Jays having all kinds of payroll room as well, there are a lot of creative options they could put together.
In the end, it’s nice to see that the front office has assembled some reasonable depth. The trick will be driving that depth into a championship calibre roster, and in order to do that they’ll have to turn quantity into quality. Hopefully they can take some steps in that direction over the winter.