The Blue Jays have a deep and dangerous batting lineup going forward, and a potentially open DH spot gives them room to add another weapon.
If I had to take a guess, I would bet that the Jays want to use the designated hitter spot in their lineup in much the same way going forward as they did in 2021 by not having one set player in the role. That allowed them to get George Springer back in the lineup much sooner than they could have otherwise, and they had the option to give regulars a half day of rest with an occasional game as the DH as well. For young stars like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and others, that was important as they navigated their first full 162 game season.
As I look at the Blue Jays lineup projections for next season, the biggest question is still whether or not Marcus Semien will return. Beyond that though, I would argue that the DH spot is the next biggest question, followed closely by sorting out the catching position.
While the Jays could entertain a true DH like the ageless Nelson Cruz (he’ll be a free agent again and remains a productive hitter even at 41 years old), my guess is they’ll look to add more than just another big bat to the lineup. In my mind, the ideal candidate would bring two important things to the table: strong outfield defence, and hopefully a left-handed bat.
The Blue Jays could really use that defence for a couple of reasons. First, George Springer struggled to stay healthy in 2021 because of a pair of leg injuries. Hopefully he can remain on the roster throughout next season, but the occasional day off of his legs would make that more likely. Having a capable candidate to cover for centre on those off days, or even for an IL stint, could be important. Randal Grichuk filled that job well for parts of the 2021 season, but count me among those that believe he’ll be playing elsewhere in 2022.
A capable outfielder would also allow the Blue Jays to improve their defence in the corners, especially when it comes to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. He did show some improvements late in the 2021 campaign, but he still needs a lot of work before he’ll be an asset in left field, even with his premium throwing arm.
As for the need for a left-handed hitter, that only makes sense when you look at the rest of the projected lineup, which is almost exclusively right-handed. For the sake of a visual I’ve put Marcus Semien into the example below (I really hope he re-signs), and here’s what it looks like right now:
1- George Springer (CF)
2- Marcus Semien (2B)
3- Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (1B)
4- Bo Bichette (SS)
5- Teoscar Hernandez (RF)
6- Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (LF)
8- Alejandro Kirk/Danny Jansen (C)
9- Santiago Espinal/Cavan Biggio (3B)
Looking at that list of names, the only left-handed hitter in the entire group is Biggio, and he’s far from guaranteed to receive regular playing time in 2022. I don’t think it’s a deal breaker for this group when you consider how many premium right-handed sticks are in the lineup, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to bring in a lefty to balance things out a bit.
Whether that means seeing if there’s a reunion to be had with Corey Dickerson, or perhaps another free agent option like a Joc Pederson type for example, don’t be surprised if the Blue Jays look to find an outfielder that can be at least a semi-regular. That would allow them to continue rotating players through the DH spot, and keeping their most dangerous bats in the lineup.