Bleacher Report recently released a projected lineup for the Blue Jays in 2022. How much could the team change by then, and do we agree with them?
One of the reasons why I love Bleacher Report is because most of their articles aren’t generic ones. Instead, they’re writing focuses more on predictions, trade scenarios, rankings and other topics that make it so much more interesting to read.
Just recently, they came out with an article projecting each team’s lineup and rotation for the 2022 season. They also projected who each team would sign leading up to the 2022 season and included them as part of the lineup or rotation. Here is Bleacher Report’s projected lineup and rotation for the Toronto Blue Jays, as well as who they think will be the top three prospects by then.
This lineup would be experienced with seven of the nine players already currently on the team in 2020. One thing to note is that Bleacher Report projects Guerrero Jr. to slide over across the diamond to first base by 2022 to accommodate Jordan Groshans who is a SS/3B, but SS is occupied by Bichette. There was some talk among fans and writers about having Guerrero Jr. play first in 2020, but the Jays were committed to having him play 3B for the time being.
Bleacher Report projects the Jays primary designated hitter in 2022 to be Alejandro Kirk who is currently a catcher at the A advanced level with an ETA of 2021. I’m personally not a fan of having a catcher be the DH, but Kirk fits the typical designated hitter weighing at 220 pounds with a career minor league slugging percentage of .500. If a catcher would be the Jays primary designated hitter, it would make sense for the Jays to carry another catcher on the bench in case Jansen gets injured, as if the DH enters the field, the pitcher is forced to hit.
Bleacher Report didn’t give any projections for the Jays bench, but it should be something like Rowdy Tellez, who can come off the bench as a pinch hitter in key situations, Santiago Espinal as the utility player due to his versatility, Reese McGuire as the backup catcher, and possibly another free agent signing or two who would be used as bench players.
Closer: Raisel Iglesias
While the front office signed Ryu to be the ace of the team now, the team ace status will likely be handed over to Pearson who has all the makings to be the Jays first homegrown ace since Roy Halladay.
Bleacher Report noted that the Blue Jays have an affinity for pitchers who have experience pitching both as a starter and a reliever using Marco Estrada, Joe Biagini and Aaron Sanchez as examples. Bleacher Report projects the Jays to bring in Carlos Martinez, although it’s unclear whether they expect the Jays to sign him as a free agent or make a trade for him. Martinez is guaranteed a contract for the 2021 season, but he has two team options attached to him for 2022 ($17 million) and 2023 ($18 million).
Martinez has experience both as a starter and reliever as in 2018, as he was the staff ace of the Cardinals, but with injuries and strong starting pitching depth in the Cardinals organization, he was transitioned into a full-time reliever for parts of the 2018 season and last season. In 118 games started, he has a career ERA of 3.36 over 712.1 innings, with 706 strikeouts over 644 hits given up. As a starter, he averages 8.9 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 with hitters slashing .241/.318/.363 against him.
Bleacher Report also has the Blue Jays having a new closer for the 2022 season, with current Reds closer Raisel Iglesias coming to join Canada’s only team. Iglesias is a free agent after the 2021 season and I would think it would take a similar contract to the one that Will Smith signed with the Braves this past offseason (three years, $39 million) to bring him to Toronto.
Iglesias also has experience as a starting pitcher although he hasn’t started a game since 2016. In his career, he has a 3.17 ERA with 448 strikeouts over 314 hits, with an opponent average of .218. He is 92 for 112 in save opportunities in his career.
Top 3 prospects
The Jays current top 3 prospects are Nate Pearson, Jordan Groshans and Simeon-Woods Richardson but Bleacher Report has all three of them on the Jays roster in 2022.
Martinez is currently the Jays 6th ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline and the 18-year-old shortstop has an ETA of 2023. The Jays signed him as an international free agent in 2018. In 40 games at the Rookie ball level last season, he slashed .275/.352/.549 with 39 hits (20 of them going for extra bases).
Kloffenstein is currently the Jays 9th ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline and is expected to make his debut sometime in 2022. The close friend of Groshans was drafted in the 3rd round in the of the 2018 draft, has done well so far pitching to a 2.17 ERA over 15 starts with an opponent average of .203.
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Manoah is currently the Jays 4th ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline and like Kloffenstein, is also expected to make his debut during the 2022 season. Manoah was the Jays first-round selection (11th overall) of last year’s draft and in six starts, he posted a 2.65 ERA while striking out 27 batters in 17 innings.
Where Bleacher Report projects current Blue Jays players to be in 2022
This article couldn’t be complete without saying where Bleacher Report has current Blue Jays players playing in 2022.
Both Travis Shaw and Joe Panik signed one-year deals with the Jays for the 2020 season but Bleacher Report doesn’t have them being in any team’s starting lineup in 2022. They don’t need to worry though as they could be key bench players for any team in 2022, especially Shaw if he can show that last season was just a down year for him.
On the mound, Tanner Roark, Matt Shoemaker and Chase Anderson‘s contracts would all expire with the Jays before 2022. Roark and Shoemaker weren’t to be found in any projected 2022 rotations although Anderson was projected to be the Mets fourth starter in their rotation.
As Ken Giles is a free agent after this season, Bleacher Report has him leaving the Jays in free agency and signing with the Twins to close out games for them. With the Jays trading off pieces last season, Giles was a prime candidate to be traded with the Twins seen as a landing spot for him, but he experienced elbow inflammation around the trade deadline and the Jays ultimately kept him.
What do you think of the projected 2022 roster?