Ross Atkins and the Blue Jays front office had aggressive offseason, and on paper they made big improvements. Unfortunately it hasn’t paid off in reality just yet.
The Blue Jays committed to more than 175 million dollars to bring in new players to the organization, and so far they haven’t received much of a return from George Springer, Marcus Semien, Kirby Yates, and Tyler Chatwood, with injuries playing a major role in the the early part of the regular season schedule.
Springer was the big ticket item at six years and 150 million dollars, and it’s been incredibly frustrating that he’s yet to make his Blue Jays debut while recovering from two separate injuries. The setbacks started with an oblique strain during Spring Training, and then he tweaked a quad while ramping things up during the first rehab. Ross Atkins reported this week that Springer has resumed all of his baseball activities but still isn’t quite to 100%, so it may be another week or two before he hits the field, according to Keegan Matheson of MLB.com.
Speaking of injuries, unfortunately Kirby Yates’ right arm gave out before he had a chance to throw a regular season pitch. He was only signed to a one-year, 5.5 million dollar deal, but it’s money that could have been invested on another reliever, or maybe even an extra arm for the rotation. Hindsight is 20/20, but signing Yates turned out to be a high-upside risk that didn’t pay off at all.
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Sticking with the injury theme, Chatwood managed just three appearances and 2.2 innings before he had to hit the Injured List with right triceps soreness. It sounds like he could even return to the active roster sometime later this week, and the Jays could certainly use the depth.
And then there’s Semien, the lone new signing who has managed to stay healthy over the first 16 games of the season. Unfortunately the start of his tenure with the Blue Jays hasn’t gone very well at all, as he’s slashing just .182/.247/.364 over his first 66 at-bats. He’s made a very smooth transition to second base and has certainly contributed with the glove, but the Blue Jays didn’t sign up to pay him 18 million dollars in 2021 to hit below the Mendoza line.
Add it up and include the other injuries and lost games for other big leaguers like Nate Pearson, Jordan Romano, Julian Merryweather, Thomas Hatch, Teoscar Hernandez and more, and it should be no surprise that the Jays haven’t started the way we all hoped they would at 7-9.
The good news is with the exception of Yates, who will be out for the season after having surgery, the Blue Jays should slowly start to get some reinforcements back, starting as soon as this week. It was encouraging to see the Blue Jays spending money to improve the roster over the winter, but so far it hasn’t done them a lot of good. Hopefully as the roster starts to get healthier and Semien finds his way, that narrative will change sooner than later.