Jeff Passan of ESPN had some interesting comments about the Blue Jays’ roster upgrade ambitions while speaking on Sportsnet 590 the Fan on Friday.
Even though the Blue Jays finished off the virtual Winter Meetings without making another roster additions, it sounds like they’re well set up to improve the team at some point soon.
We’ve heard that message from Ross Atkins both early in the offseason and as recently as this week, but of course, hearing it from the GM at this time of year always comes with a grain of salt. This time around I genuinely believe the Blue Jays are seriously about spending to get better, but it’s still hard to predict how they’ll go about it, or even what actual options will end up being available to them.
To that end, we heard some encouraging words from MLB Insider and ESPN’s Jeff Passan when he joined Jeff Blair and Stephen Brunt on Sportsnet’s 590 the Fan on Friday. Passan echoed the same message we’ve heard all winter, that the Blue Jays have been aggressively pursuing free agents and possible trade scenarios. However, Passan took it one step further by painting a hypothetical.
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He mentioned that he’d been speaking with baseball executives, and that the Blue Jays are “going to have a really big offseason”.
Of course, that’s a fairly vague way to put it, and it doesn’t tell us a whole lot more than what we’ve already heard. For what it’s worth, it doesn’t sound like Passan really knows much more than we do as far as who they Blue Jays end up with, but his comments were definitely noteworthy for a few reasons. The names he mentioned familiar, but he did present an idea that I haven’t heard much outside of fan chatter on social media.
“I don’t know if that means Springer. I don’t know if that’s going to be Lindor. I don’t know if it means both.”
"“I posed that last night to a large-market executive and he said, ‘I think that can go get both of them’, and boy would that be something. And his rationale, and I think it was logical, is that the Jays when they were at their best, I didn’t double check this, so you guys would know this, correct me if I’m wrong on the math. When the Jays were really competing their payrolls were in the 150 million dollar or so range right? So we know that they can run it up there.”"
As he said, that would be something indeed.
Honestly, there’s a more than feasible path to the Blue Jays being able to acquire both Lindor and Springer if they choose to pursue that plan, and of course, pull it off. Springer can be signed as a free agent, and that requires money and an agreement from the outfielder. As for Lindor, Cleveland has been more than rumoured to be shopping their star player, and they’ve even shown interest in the Blue Jays’ Lourdes Gurriel Jr., at least according to the rumour mill. In theory, Springer could become the new centre fielder, and incumbent Randal Grichuk can slide back to a corner outfield spot, especially if Gurriel Jr. were dealt.
Is that the best strategy? That depends on how much more the Blue Jays would be willing to stretch their payroll beyond those two additions. There are important needs in the starting rotation and the bullpen as well, so that will need to be addressed one way or another. Springer is likely going to be paid somewhere between 20-25 million per season, and Lindor will make around 20 million in 2021 before he becomes a free agent, unless he’s extended first. That’s roughly 45 million for those two, and as I said, they have other needs.
According to spotrac.com, the Blue Jays have roughly 70 million committed to next season’s roster at the moment, but that’s before arbitration cases are settled. Their projected competitive balance payroll is round 100 million, so adding a pair of stars would put them in the neighbour hood of 140 million after subtracting Gurriel Jr’s total (remember, this is all hypothetical). Passan was close when he mentioned 150 million in the past, and Brunt corrected him that they’d been over 160 million, so there is a case that the Jays could pull off this pair of impact moves and still add a some help to the pitching staff.
That said, I’m not sure that they’ll go quite that far, even if the Blue Jays appear to be one of the only teams looking to spend. I hope I’m wrong, but what’s exciting is that someone like Passan is talking about it as a realistic possibility. Rumours are just rumours until a deal is made, but this isn’t nothing.
We’ll see if the Ross Atkins and his staff can bring us a Christmas present or two this year, but at the very least it’s nice to hear that they seem to be swinging for the fences to do just that.