Despite sweeping their season-ending series against the Baltimore Orioles, the Toronto Blue Jays fell short in their bid for a postseason berth.
It felt like a setback and a disappointing end to a wildly entertaining season. As much as 2021 felt like a step in the right direction, some key pending free agents give it the feel of opportunity lost.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is coming off perhaps the best season ever for a player in their age-22 campaign. Bo Bichette drove in over 100 runs and finished second to Vladdy in runs scored. Outfielders Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. are in their primes and under team control for the foreseeable future.
Blue Jays – Supplementing Young Stars with Productive Veterans
As exciting as the young players have been, adding vets like Hyun-Jin Ryu, George Springer, Marcus Semien, and Robbie Ray has been a formula for success. Ryu is signed through 2023, and Springer still has five years remaining on the six-year, $150 million contract he signed last November.
There’s no doubt the market for these two players will be red-hot. As hyped-up as this year’s class of free agent shortstops is, none of them can boast of having the type of power season Semien just had.
Ray was the first player to sign a contract when free agency opened last year. The one-year, $8 million deal seemed like an act of faith by both sides. The Jays were confident, working with Pete Walker could bring Ray back to his 2017 All-Star form, or better. Robbie showed virtually no hesitation in “running it back” after being acquired in a trade in 2020 and made himself a bundle this season.