Now that the World Series is over free agency will open next week, and it remains to be seen how quickly the Blue Jays will act to improve their roster.
After watching the Washington Nationals win the World Series last night, my mind quickly transitioned to thinking about the impending free agency season and how that could affect the Toronto Blue Jays.
The big question for me is how quickly the Blue Jay might act to try and improve their roster, and also how fast the market may move in general. After a few strange years of MLB free agency, will the recent trends reverse toward a more aggressive market?
As far as the Blue Jays concerned, I don’t know that fans should be holding their breath to see anything happen during the first few weeks of free agency. I do think they’ll kick their tires on some of the better starter pitchers set to hit the market, but those situations usually take a while to develop and I don’t know that Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins are the type to offer a contract that will blow away any players and/or their agents.
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I am cautiously optimistic that the Blue Jays could spend a little bit of money this winter, if the right situation develops of course. With that in mind, I think Atkins and company will likely follow their own recent path of waiting out the market and seeing what kind of bargains develop later on. The reality is, the front office is focused on building this team for 2021 and beyond more so than next season, so they can afford to wait for stopgap options. It’s the long-term solutions that will require a quicker hand, but again, there’s only so much they can control there.
As for the bullpen, the Blue Jays will have an assortment of in-house options to work with for 2020, and I’m sure they’ll wait out the market and see what kind of bargains they can find in February or even March, as they have in recent years. The one wild card could be whether or not they decide to trade Ken Giles, as it would open up the closer’s role, and a spot that’s currently locked down for next year’s bullpen.
As for the batting lineup, I feel like the Blue Jays will likely wait things out there as well. As things currently stand, I think you could argue that they have 6-7 of their everyday spots locked up between Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Randal Grichuk, Danny Jansen/ Reese McGuire, and maybe Rowdy Tellez. That really only leaves a potential need for help in the outfield (if they don’t just roll with what they have in Derek Fisher, Teoscar Hernandez, etc), and maybe first base/designated hitter.
In today’s evolving game, there’s no guarantee they’ll fill that DH role, as the club will likely even prefer to cycle their young players through the spot, giving them rest while keeping them in the lineup. Depending on how comfortable Charlie Montoyo is using Brandon Drury, Billy McKinney, and maybe even Biggio to back up Tellez at first base, the Blue Jays may not be that motivated to spend there either, or they can definitely wait to find a cheap veteran later in the off-season. As for centre field, the free agent market doesn’t offer much in the way of an upgrade this winter, so they’ll either have to improve through the trade market, or give their in-house options another shot.
Add it all up and unless the Blue Jays plan on making a no-doubt offer to someone like a Zack Wheeler, Jake Odorizzi, or (my pipe dream) Gerrit Cole, I don’t think we’ll see them as a very active buyer in the early stages of free agency. It’s possible they could be active sellers on the trade market with a surplus of outfielders, the impending decision on Giles, and more, but that remains to be seen as well. I hope I’m wrong, but I think we’ll be waiting for a while before something significant happens.