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Blue Jays: Who may have played their last game in Toronto?

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 23: Ken Giles #51 of the Toronto Blue Jays wears a hoodie as he goes to the outfield to warm up during batting practice before the start of MLB game action against the San Francisco Giants Rogers Centre on April 23, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - APRIL 23: Ken Giles #51 of the Toronto Blue Jays wears a hoodie as he goes to the outfield to warm up during batting practice before the start of MLB game action against the San Francisco Giants Rogers Centre on April 23, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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I remain optimistic that there will be baseball in 2020, but if not, which players may have played their last game for the Blue Jays?

It’s too early to say if or when Major League Baseball will be able to return, but without live games to watch, you’ll have to excuse my mind for wandering a little.

Last night I got thinking about what would happen to the Blue Jays’ roster if there was no baseball at all in 2020, which is a depressing, but realistic possibility. I’m not expecting that to be the case, but it’s probably wise for the Blue Jays’ front office to at least consider the possibility.

Since the MLB office and the Player’s Association have already agreed to honour this year’s service time for players regardless of whether there is a season or not, teams can basically operate as if the season took place in terms of dealing with contracts. That could end up being an unfortunate turn of events in a few cases, but it’s something that every team will deal with on some level. For example, think about how the Dodgers must be feeling about trading for Mookie Betts right now, who is scheduled to be a free agent this coming off-season.

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As for the Blue Jays, the good news is that the majority of their most valuable players are a part of the young core that is still on pre-arbitration eligible contracts. The Blue Jays will “lose” one year of control for guys like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, and more, but they’re all still a long way from free agency. Since the rosters have been frozen, a guy like Nate Pearson will remain in the same state of pre-MLB limbo he was before this whole Coronavirus pandemic.

Who will is actually effect though? Well at the top of the list would be Ken Giles, who was scheduled to pitch in the final year of his current deal before hitting free agency. It was widely speculated that the Blue Jays may have shopped him over the winter, and would have done the same this coming July before the trade deadline, however, it’s hard to say what happens with him now.

Despite the fact that it took a while before the Blue Jays could come to an agreement with Matt Shoemaker, the effort could all be for naught if there is no season in 2020. This year represented the fourth and final go-around of his arbitration eligibility, and he will be an unrestricted free agent come November. The Blue Jays could still negotiate with the veteran right-hander if they wanted to bring him back, but he would have the ability to gauge interest from other teams this time around, likely driving up his market a fair bit.

As for the players that the Blue Jays brought in this off-season, there wouldn’t be too many “never even played a game in Toronto” candidates in this nightmare scenario. Someone like Joe Panik could end up in the position, but one would think there would likely be mutual interest in trying it again whenever baseball resumes. The same could happen to Anthony Bass, who is scheduled to hit the open market after this season after joining the Blue Jays bullpen over the winter. As for the others, Travis Shaw would still have one year left of arbitration eligibility, and Chase Anderson has a 9.5 million dollar club option on his contract for 2021. The Blue Jays could pass on either of those scenarios I suppose, but we’ll see what happens in the coming months.

Both Shun Yamaguchi and Tanner Roark signed two-year deals, so they would suddenly turn out to be more like a one-year pact if there were no 2020 campaign. As for Hyun-Jin Ryu, he signed a four-year contract with the Blue Jays in December, so he’ll be in Toronto for a while, even if it would be a shame to lose his age 33 season. The Blue Jays also hold a club option for 1.5 million on Rafael Dolis, who they signed over the winter.

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I don’t anticipate the entire MLB season to get cancelled any time soon, and hopefully it won’t happen at all. However, if that terrible outcome does come to pass, fortunately the Blue Jays won’t be hurt by it too much, at least in terms of their roster building.

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