With the expiration of the current CBA just days away, organizations are looking to bolster their rosters with some sort of peace of mind while transactions possibly halt for an unknown determined amount of time. Free agents may normally be reluctant to sign early in the winter and let it ride out if needed, but with so many questions about the near-future lingering, some may choose the guarantee today which could provide some fireworks for the Blue Jays over the next few days.
The Blue Jays are currently positioned with the ability to add to their roster both via free agency and trade. With a few needs still lingering on this team, it seems like management will be aggressive with upgrading their starting rotation. How they attack it through free agency may hint at how they address their other needs. Following a 91-win season – no wild card berth – that resulted in a 4th place AL East finish – shows that while they currently have a solid rotation, a top-of-the-rotation arm is needed to get to the next level.
We can agree with the depth they currently have at the catcher and infield positions – along with intriguing players on the 26-man roster – that a blockbuster trade is inevitable to address other needs. While they have the capability to make multiple trades, I wouldn’t count on more than one of them being a blockbuster, as they’re not looking to clean the cupboards. I would also assume on top of an ace-like arm, management is also looking to bring in a mid-rotation arm. The latter is a little easier to find via free agency – Duffy, Rodon & Kikuchi to name a few – or an under-the-radar trade, so that should not have any barring on other moves, but the former certainly has a major impact.
How Blue Jays play in the free agency market and which positions they fill will impact which position(s) they can address via a blockbuster trade.
If they miss out on big-name free agents – linked to Robbie Ray and Kevin Gausman – or the unlikelier of the three, Max Scherzer, they may need to use their trade chips to address the rotation. That sort of trade could also include a positional player (ex: Athletics, Reds), but the focus will be an arm. Jose Ramirez seems to be on the top of most fans’ wish list, but if the Jays don’t land a top arm, I find it very unlikely they use the pieces it would cost to address the rotation AND Ramirez.
It’s not to say they can’t add a big-name free agent pitcher and make a pitch (no pun intended) at another top arm via trade, but I would bet in that scenario where the top of the rotation is set, they use their trade chips to address an infield position (or two?). So, in the end, whether they land a top arm via free agency could have a snowball effect on how they address other needs.