The Toronto Blue Jays have been on a roll lately, winning eight of their last ten games and climbing their way up the AL East standings while also staying competitive for a Wild Card spot at 6.5 and 3 games back respectively.
A lot of this success is coming from the Blue Jays starting rotation pitching very well as of late as well as getting success from the batting order, with players like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and George Springer all playing well at the top of the lineup.
Two standout players for the Blue Jays this season have been infielder Marcus Semien and left-hander Robbie Ray, both of whom were brought into the organization on separate one-year deals this past off-season.
Ray was acquired by the Blue Jays at the trade deadline last year from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for reliever Travis Bergen, appearing in five games for the club and pitching to a 4.79 ERA through 20.2 innings, striking out 25 batters with 14 walks. He would re-sign early in the off-season for $8 million dollars and would be able to use the Blue Jays resources all winter, tinkering with his mechanics and using the organization’s new Dunedin complex to get ready for the year.
The gamble of signing Ray early has paid off tenfold for the Blue Jays so far, as the southpaw has become one of the top pitchers in the rotation this season. He currently sports a 2.90 ERA through 22 starts with 159 strikeouts through 130.1 innings, throwing to an impressive 1.07 WHIP behind Blue Jays ace Hyun Jin Ryu in the rotation.
Robbie Ray and Marcus Semien have been pleasant additions to the Blue Jays roster from this past off-season. With both players performing well, one wonders if the organization will be able to bring back one or both players this upcoming off-season.
Marcus Semien would be signed in late January to a one-year deal worth $18 million, another gamble from the Blue Jays front office after the right-handed hitter regressed from his MVP caliber season with the Oakland Athletics back in 2019.
Primarily a shortstop for most of his career, Semien was moved to second base with Bo Bichette already occupying the position and the signing is paying off on both sides of the field.
At the plate, Semien sports a .276/.340/.532 with 26 home runs, 67 RBI, and a .872 OPS through 109 games. Defensively, Semien has four errors at second base through 98 games and a clean sheet at shortstop when called upon, forming a tandem with Bichette that turns double plays with ease and gives fans the confidence that he can make the easy plays. While Semien had a rough start to the campaign, he had a bounce-back May that saw his stats rise across all fronts and he would go on to earn the American League Player of the Month Award honours and also booked a ticket to the All-Star game in Colorado.
Both players have been wonderful additions to the Blue Jays roster, which begs the question: should the organization re-sign these players beyond this season, and if they do, can they afford to do so?