The Jays have plenty of money to spend and they’ll be active in the free agent and trade market, what would a dream offseason look like for them
The Blue Jays have been linked to almost every free agent or trade candidate on the market this offseason. Whether it’s George Springer, DJ LeMahieu, J.T. Realmuto, or Francisco Lindor, chances are if you’re a player that’s available, the Jays have contacted you or your team. This got me thinking if the Jays are going to be in on almost everyone who is available, how good could this team be? So I put together what I think a dream offseason would look like for the Jays.
According to Spotrac, the Jays estimated 2021 salary currently sits at $73,408,333. The team’s salary has recently topped out at 175 million dollars so the Jays will have plenty of money to spend. Let’s get into this dream offseason.
40 Man Moves
First, we’re going to take a look at some internal moves and the 40 man roster. The Jays added five prospects to the 40-man in order to protect them from the rule 5 draft: Gabriel Moreno, Riley Adams, Otto Lopez, Josh Palacios, and Ty Tice. These moves brought the 40 man roster to its capacity so some moves will have to be made in order to make space for incoming players.
My first move would be to DFA Derek Fisher, Reese McGuire, Shun Yamaguchi, Hector Perez, and Jacob Waguespack as they all played very poorly last season and have fallen behind other players in the Jays depth chart like Alejandro Kirk, Jonathan Davis, and Ross Stripling. My other 40 man move would be to not pick up Travis Shaw’s option as he didn’t have the bounce-back year we all hoped for so I think the Jays will look externally for a replacement at third base this offseason. These moves bring the 40 man roster to 34 and give the Jays some room to make a couple of offseason additions.
Now getting into the offseason additions, starting with trades.
-RHP Tanner Roark and a Lottery Ticket Prospect for literally anything
The first trade is a pure salary dump where we find anyone who is willing to take Tanner Roark off our hands. A team that could make sense for this trade is Pittsburgh, where former Jays assistant GM Ben Cherington is currently their GM. Roark would probably have a prospect go with him in a deal, as a sweetener as Cherington knows the Jays farm system very well, so he could pick one of his favorite under the radar prospects from his time in Toronto. I think if we eat half of Roark’s money then this deal would make sense for both sides.
The next move would be the Jays’ big offseason acquisition, as they would be acquiring all-world shortstop Francisco Lindor. We’ve talked a lot about Lindor already this offseason so I won’t go into too much detail. Cleveland wants three MLB players back, but they aren’t getting that.
I think that giving them two young and controllable big-league players like Kirk and Biggio, paired with top prospects in Manoha would get the deal done and would work for both sides. I wouldn’t give anything more than that as Cleveland is desperate to move Lindor, so there is no need to overpay. If someone like the Yankees wants to give up Gleyber Torres for him, then you respectfully bow out and let them overpay.
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Along with trading for Lindor, we would extend him as well giving him a 10 year, 300 million dollar deal. This is a reasonable contract as it would be close to what Mookie Betts got in similar circumstances last year. Betts got a little over 30 million annually so I think giving Lindor 30 on the nose is a fair deal as he is a great player but not quite as good as Betts.
I wouldn’t trade for Lindor without an extension as the Jays are not one player away from winning a World Series, so getting Lindor for multiple years and being able to build around him would be key. This move would affect Bo Bichette, who’s worked hard to become a better shortstop but has also said he would give up the position if a better player came in and this is a move that would qualify for that.
The final trade I think the Jays should make this offseason is an under the radar one, but one that I would love them to pull the trigger on. This trade is to acquire Josh Hader from the Brewers. Hader had a down year for his standards last year posting a 3.79 ERA, a 0.947 WHIP, a 122 ERA+, and 14.9 K/9. This is still a really good year even though it was his worst year since his rookie year in 2017, but with the emergence of rookie Devin Williams, and with Hader getting further into arbitration, it might make sense for the Brewers to move on and get younger, cheaper assets for him.
In the Hader deal, I would also have the Jays acquire OF Tyrone Taylor. Taylor is an outfielder who has never really gotten a shot with the Brewers but has played pretty well when he has. He’ll be 27 next year and is under team control for four more years so he could be a cheap option as our fourth outfielder with a little upside. Going back the other way would be a pretty hefty package, and a tough one for the Jays as they would lose Thomas Hatch, who was great out of the pen last year and is still pre-arbitration, so he’s cheap and has lots of team control left.
However, the Brewers are still a team that is going to try to contend and they need starting pitching so Hatch is a guy who can slide into the back of their rotation and give them quality innings while also paying him nothing. Along with Hatch, the Brewers would get Miguel Hiraldo who is a prospect that I love.
Hiraldo is the Jays number nine prospect according to Pipe Line and is only 20 years old. In 2019, he hit .300 in Bluefield. He projects as a third baseman with good bat to ball skills, good power, and a good arm. Even though Hiraldo is a great prospect with a promising future, you have to give up something to get something and Hader is one of the premier relievers in baseball so he won’t come cheap.
Free Agent Signings
-RHP Jake Odorizzi 3 years 39 million
-LHP James Paxton 1 year 10 million
-3B Justin Turner 2 years 24 million
-C Yadier Molina 2 years 20 million
-RHP Keone Kela 2 years 8 million with a team option on the second year
-RHP Blake Treinen 2 years 14 million
-SS Freddy Galvis 1 year 3 million
The free-agent list is a little longer than the trade list, but there is some serious talent that will help the Jays fill some of their roster needs. The first signing I have is starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi. I think I’m higher on Odorizzi than a lot of other people but I think he would be a great addition to this rotation.
The Jays need starting pitching, as that was a huge issue for them last year and Odorizzi is not only a good depth option, he has some upside and could wind up being a good 2-3 starter. Sure there is risk in bringing in Odorizzi as he was hurt for most of last year and is 30 years old. However, if you go back to 2019 he was an All-Star and arguably the Twins’ best pitcher that year so he does have the track record you’re looking for.
I used MLB Trade Rumors to project the salary for Odorizzi and some of the other guys on this list. They had him earning a three-year deal with 13 million annually which is a very reasonable deal for a 2-3 starter.
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This next signing will help round out their rotation by bringing in the Ladner, B.C native James Paxton. Paxton has been very good over his career posting a 3.58 ERA and a 114 ERA+ through his eight years in the bigs. However, Paxton has dealt with his fair share of injuries and this was evident last year as a flexor strain in his left arm limited him to just five starts.
At 32 years old, and coming off a down season, Paxton is unlikely to get a big multi-year deal. MLB Trade Rumors projects his new salary to be a 1 year 10 million dollar deal. This would be perfect for the Jays as they get a quality arm, who, when healthy, can be one of the best pitchers in baseball.
The Jays would maintain both financial and positional flexibility as they have young arms like Simeon Woods Richardson who may be big-league ready next season.
Next, I have the Jays bringing in third baseman Justin Turner. Turner has been one of the best hitters in baseball for the last couple of years. In his seven years with the Dodgers, he hit .302 with a .503 slugging percentage. Now Turner is getting up there in age as he’ll be 36 next year and isn’t a great defender, but at 2 years and 12 million (per Trade Rumors), I think he would act as a great stopgap at third base until either Austin Martin or Jordan Groshans is ready to make the jump to the MLB which could be as soon as 2022. Once they arrive, Turner could be dealt or become more of a full-time DH for the last year of his contract.
Next, I have the Jays making kind of a controversial move by signing future Hall of Fame catcher, Yadier Molina. Now I know everyone is going to start losing their minds when they see this because of the number of young catchers the Jays have, but you have to remember, in this world we’ve DFA’d McGuire and traded Kirk which leaves us with one big-league catcher, Danny Jansen, so we would need another one.
I thought about just going for a backup like Mike Zunino and letting Jansen continue to be the starter, but then I was like, why not go big here and make an upgrade at the position as Janson has been in the bigs for over two years now, and has done nothing to show that he is a starting catcher long term. This team is past the point of giving guys with some potential multiple years to show that they belong as everyday players in the bigs. They have to start being a little more cutthroat if they want to get better and I think that bringing in Molina to replace Janson would be a move that’ll do that.
Now like Turner, Yadi is also getting up there in age but he has still been a productive player over the past couple of seasons and continued that last year hitting .262, while still playing good defence behind the plate. Due to his age though, Yadi isn’t going to be catching 135 games a year anymore and will probably need to do a 60-40% split with his backup. This will still give Jansen around 65 games behind the dish this year and he will get to learn from one of the best to ever do it.
Bringing in Yadi on a two-year deal will also act as a stop-gap for the Jays potential next catcher of the future. The Jays have plenty of catching depth in the minors with Gabriel Moreno, who is a highly-touted prospect, or a guy like Philip Clarke who won a College World Series at Vanderbilt. Most of their catching prospects are still probably two years away, so like Tuner, bringing in Molina to be a stop-gap for the next two years until some of our top prospects are ready seems like a really good fit.
Now that we have the lineup and rotation taken care of, I shifted my attention towards the bullpen and decided to pick up two relievers in Keone Kela and Blake Treinen. As it stands, the Jays bullpen will consist of Romano, Dolis, Borucki, Cole, (Hader with the trade I made), and then Stripling. They also have depth pieces like Sean Reid Foley, Patrick Murphy, and Tim Mayza (who is coming back from TJ) so I decided to try to add some more impact relievers rather than depth pieces. The first arm I added is Keone Kela.
Kela will only be 28 next year and has had a nice career with the Pirates and Rangers posting a 3.24 ERA over 231 games through 8 seasons. Kela throws hard with an average fastball velocity sitting at 96 miles per hour according to StatCast and would be a welcome addition to the back end of the Jays’ bullpen. Kela did miss most of last year due to forearm inflammation, so I think we could get him on a cheaper deal because of that. I would give him a two year deal worth 4 million annually, with a club option for the second year so we can capitalize if he can find his pre-injury self and if he can’t, we let him walk.
The next arm I have the Jays adding to their bullpen is former Cy Young candidate Blake Treinen. Treinen had an unbelievable season in 2018, posting a 0.78 ERA in 68 games and coming 6th in MVP voting that year. However, he had a down year in 2019 and was forced to take a one-year deal with the Dodgers and rebuild his value. He did just that in 2020 having a nice season and winning a World Series on top of it. MLB Trade Rumors projects his salary to be 2 years 14 million so I stuck with that and brought him in to be a key piece in the back end of our bullpen.
The final move that I would make in this dream offseason is a move to sure up our bench and add some depth up the middle. I did this by bringing back a familiar face in Freddy Galvis. Galvis played with the Jays for a chunk of the 2019 season before being released to clear space for Bo Bichette. Galvis is a sure-handed shortstop who would provide defensive stability at either short or second coming off the bench.
Galvis is also not an automatic out like some of the Jays’ replacement players were last year and even though he had a down year offensively last season he hit well in his time in Toronto so we will see if he can continue to do that in his second stint with the team.
These are the moves that I would make in a dream Jays’ offseason. Below I am going to put together a potential roster with the players I added just to get an idea of what this team would look like.
Potential Line Up:
1.Francisco Lindor SS
2.Bo Bichette 2B
5.Justin Turner 3B
7.Randal Grichuk CF
8.Rowdy Tellez DH
9.Yadier Molina C
LHP Josh Hader
RHP Jordan Romano
RHP Blake Treinen
RHP Rafael Dolis
LHP Ryan Borucki
RHP A.J. Cole
RHP Keone Kela
RHP Ross Stripling
Overall this would be a really good team with offensive threats everywhere in the lineup, a solid rotation, and a really good bullpen. The total cost of the 2021 roster would be around $151,408,333 which is well below the Jays budget. Also, a lot of these deals are short term so it will give them the flexibility to make more moves in the future.
This also gives them the flexibility to manipulate their prospects as they see fit, as guys like Turner and Million are just stopgaps so they’re not going to stop guys like Martin, Groshans, or Monaro from coming up if they earn it in the minors.