The Blue Jays are expected to be aggressive when it comes to improving their roster again this winter, but there are other reasons we’ll likely hear their name connected to a ton of free agents.
To start with is the fact that this is a team that’s left the rebuilding stage and have announced themselves as a talented young group to be reckoned with. They qualified for the expanded postseason during the shortened 2020 season, and missed by one game after picking up 91 wins in 2021. With an emerging core and some nice veterans surrounding them, Ross Atkins and his front office team have done a nice job of building the roster.
They’ve also shown that they are willing to spend, and have proven that in back to back seasons by signing Hyun Jin Ryu to a four-year, 80 million dollar pact two years ago, and with George Springer receiving six years and 150 million last offseason. The Jays also made a fairly high-priced gamble on Marcus Semien for one year and 18 million, and thankfully that turned into a career year for the 31 year old that resulted in him being named as a finalist for the AL MVP award.
Not only do the Blue Jays have the motivation to add to their roster and the funds to get the job done, they have needs to fill this offseason. That could come in the form of re-signing the likes of Semien, Robbie Ray, and Steven Matz, or it might mean that they need to be replaced. It’s not going to be be cheap to keep Semien or Ray, and even Matz should earn himself a reasonably priced multi-year deal. Even if they were able to sign all three of their big free agents, they still need to address the bullpen as well, and if they can’t then they’re going to have to spend to fill those important roles.
As if that’s not enough to keep the Blue Jays in the rumour mill throughout the offseason, there are two more reasons we’re bound to hear them linked to nearly every valuable free agent that’s available. Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet summed it up well on Monday:
"“That won’t stop the rumours from flowing, as agents sometimes like to link their clients to the Blue Jays now that they’re spending quite aggressively. There will be truth to many of those rumours, as the Blue Jays are nothing if not thorough. Especially in a year where they have clear needs for a bat and multiple pitchers, they’ll check on the vast majority of free agents, including the best of the best.”"
I think he’s correct that agents will start using the Blue Jays as leverage, even when that’s not necessarily accurate. Every free agent needs some leverage in their negotiations, and a potentially aggressive spender like the Blue Jays can be very useful that way. Nicholson-Smith also rightfully points out that the Blue Jays haven’t been afraid to kick the tires pretty much anywhere over the last few years either.
He also points out that we have to remember that agents like Scott Boras and others represent multiple players, so a meeting that’s mostly motivated by talking about Marcus Semien could drum up some rumours about Max Scherzer as well. At the end of the day, an agent’s job is to make their clients look as desirable as possible, and the more teams they can link to their players, the better.
With all of that in mind, Blue Jays fans need to prepare for a long offseason full of plenty of rumours. It won’t help that things are bound to start slowly with the pending expiry of the current CBA, and may not pick up until a new one can be hammered out between the league and the Player’s Association. In the meantime, we’ll probably have to take most of the rumours with a grain of salt.