Blue Jays: The perfect offseason target, at least on paper
The Blue Jays have a handful of needs to address over the offseason, and there’s one potential target that could check most of the boxes.
Unfortunately this player won’t be a free agent right away, which in some ways adds to the appeal, but also likely the acquisition cost. There’s also no guarantee that this perfect fit will even be made available. However, depending on how the chips fall for the Blue Jays in the early part of free agency, I hope they’re making some aggressive calls to the Arizona Diamondbacks about Ketel Marte. I can’t really think of a player that would fit their needs a whole lot better with one acquisition.
As I said, there is no guarantee that the Diamondbacks would be willing to trade arguably their best position player, especially because he has three years of contract control remaining at a very reasonable rate. He’s set to earn just eight million in 2022, followed by club options for 10 million in 2023, and 12 million in 2024. For a player of his potential value, that’s chump change.
I will acknowledge that injuries have been a bit of an issue over the last two seasons, as he played just 45 out of 60 regular season games in 2020, and only 90 of the 162 this year, but hopefully he can put that bad luck behind him. At just 28 years old, he shouldn’t be at the point where his body is breaking down yet or anything.
As for the reasons why I’m such a big fan of the idea of trading for Marte, he really does check off a lot of the aforementioned boxes. Last season he .318/.377/.532 with 14 home runs, 29 doubles, and 50 RBI across 374 at-bats. He’s a switch hitter that runs the bases fairly well too, which could work beautifully in the two-hole between George Springer and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the event that Marcus Semien signs elsewhere.
On the defensive side of things, Marte could be a possible replacement for Semien at second base, as he’s played 279 games at the position throughout his career including 20 appearances in 2021. More recently he has been serving as the centre fielder for the D-backs, but he’s a capable infielder who has spent significant time at shortstop as well.
I hate to admit it, but I’m thinking of Marte as the guy who could fill Semien’s shoes in the event that he leaves. I’m willing to bet that the Blue Jays will be in on the discussions for his next contract, but I also think that it’s wise to make back-up plans too. If the Jays were to trade for Marte I’m sure it would be with that intention, but he would also come with the added bonus of being able to cover for Springer in the event that he ends up on the Injured List again in 2022. It would be feasible to move Marte to centre and start Cavan Biggio at second base with Santiago Espinal at third, and that depth would be another nice card to have in your hands.
This is all just speculation of course, and I really do hope that the Blue Jays find a way to bring Semien back on a semi-reasonable multi-year contract. However, if he finds a team that is willing to outbid the Blue Jays and/or give him a job back at his old position as a shortstop, I wouldn’t be all that surprised. In that case, the Jays would be silly not to call the Diamondbacks and ask if they’d consider parting with Marte.
Add it up and you’re looking at a young switch-hitting star second baseman/centre fielder with the upside of a five-tool player, all on a very reasonable contract. The only thing not to like might be the asking price.