Last but not least is the most obvious area that the Blue Jays will need to improve over the winter: the bullpen.
If not for a leaky bullpen in 2021, I think there’s a solid argument that the Jays could have challenged the Rays for the AL East crown. That sounds pretty drastic when we’re talking about a nine game difference in the standings, but there was a point in the season when the Blue Jays’ bullpen was as bad as any unit in baseball.
They were badly compromised by injuries throughout the year, especially losing Kirby Yates and David Phelps for the season before April had even come to a close. Julian Merryweather looked like he was ready to step up and flourish in a late-inning role, and then he hit the IL and stayed there until the last few weeks of the regular season.
In all I believe that the Blue Jays will have a solid foundation in their bullpen, but there’s a pretty clear need to add to the stables. As far as arms under control at the moment, the list includes Jordan Romano, Adam Cimber, Tim Mayza, Trevor Richards, Ryan Borucki, Julian Merryweather, and more, and some better luck in the health department is certainly possible and even likely.
That said, after the bullpen proved to be the Achilles heel all too often for the Blue Jays in 2021, it would be foolish of the front office not to address it. I’m willing to bet they’ll add another capable arm to the back of the bullpen to help Romano and Mayza finish off games, and just as important, I’m sure the brain trust will focus on bringing in as much quality depth as possible too.
The bullpen has become increasingly important in recent years, and the Blue Jays were a prime example of that in 2021. In my mind, it’s the biggest priority of the winter outside of trying to retain Ray and Semien, so don’t be surprised to see a significant investment in this department.