Blue Jays: The holiday wish list for the 2021/2022 offseason

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 24: Frankie Montas #47 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Houston Astros in the top of the first inning at RingCentral Coliseum on September 24, 2021 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 24: Frankie Montas #47 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Houston Astros in the top of the first inning at RingCentral Coliseum on September 24, 2021 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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Blue Jays
MIAMI, FLORIDA – JULY 06: Pablo Lopez #49 of the Miami Marlins delivers a pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the third inning at loanDepot park on July 06, 2021 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Adding some additional bullpen arms

Looking at the current bullpen picture, the Blue Jays roll into the 2022 season with some solid pieces and a lot more to be happy with compared to the 2021 campaign.

Trevor Richards, Adam Cimber, Tim Mayza, Yimi Garcia, and Jordan Romano will be the centerpieces of the relief corps while some other internal players could find themselves in the mix like Ryan Borucki, David Phelps, Trent Thornton, Tayler Saucedo, Anthony Castro, and Kirby Snead. The bullpen could also get a boost if Nate Pearson or Ross Stripling end up heading that way, depending on how the last rotation spot gets filled.

With starting pitchers starting not going as deep into games compared to previous eras, especially in the postseason, it would be wise for the Blue Jays front office to add another established arm or two in the pen for stability in case of poor performance or injuries. It also wouldn’t hurt in the event that Richards, Mayza, and Cimber cannot follow up their impressive performances in 2021 next year.

A few popular names are already off the board like Raisel Iglesias, Kendall Graveman, and Mark Melancon but there are still some players left who could benefit the Blue Jays relief corps. A few names include:

  • Kenley Jansen
  • Andrew Chafin
  • Ian Kennedy
  • Collin McHugh
  • Alex Colome

Each player has its pros and cons and varying price points but it wouldn’t hurt to have a few more players with some bullpen experience at the MLB level pitching for the Jays next season.

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The risk will always be there that the signings could turn into Tyler Chatwood 2.0 but if internal options like Castro, Saucedo, or Snead start to struggle and the club does not have a backup plan in place, missing out on the playoffs because of a few bullpen losses would hurt in 2022 after falling one win short of a playoff berth last year.

Adding a veteran starter for the rotation

Another debatable topic amongst the Blue Jays fanbase, there are a few starting pitchers who are left on the open market and a few who could be available via trade that could help the club when it comes to filling out the last open rotation spot. It would be great if the club was able to open up the pocketbook and sign one of the bigger names available like Carlos Rodon or Clayton Kershaw but the reality is that the club will most likely look for a cheaper option or a bounce-back candidate to fill out the last rotation spot if they really don’t want to use an internal option.

Free-agent wise, some pitchers who could provide some depth at the back end of the rotation are:

  • Yusei Kikuchi
  • Michael Pineda
  • Matt Boyd
  • Zach Davies

Kikuchi is a bit of a risky signing given he hasn’t posted the strongest numbers with the Mariners over the past three season while Pineda doesn’t have the most positive injury track record heading into his age 33 campaign. Boyd is an intriguing bounce-back option who was a part of the Alex Anthopoulos era of the Blue Jays farm system while Davies is coming off a rough year in 2021 but has a solid track record with the Cubs prior to that. Out of the potential options, Davies seems to be the most intriguing player of the group and could fit into the “one-year bounce back” candidate type deal that the Blue Jays used in 2021 with Semien and Ray.

With the holiday season in full swing, here are four holiday wish list ideas for the Toronto Blue Jays this offseason to help improve the 2022 roster.

Trade-wise, the Blue Jays could explore options with both the Miami Marlins and the Oakland Athletics, as each team has one or two pitchers the organization could look to add this offseason.

In Miami, Pablo Lopez and Elieser Hernandez seem like the most likely trade targets, as both players have two years of arbitration control left after this offseason before hitting free agency in 2025 and could yield a decent return. Sandy Alcantra is most likely off-limits given his new contract extension.

Oakland has already announced to the baseball world that they are willing to deal some of their players to slash payroll and a trio of starters could fancy the Blue Jays front office. Chris Bassitt, Sean Manaea, and Frankie Montas are all players of interest for teams looking for some additional depth with a year or two of contract control (Manaea and Bassitt are free agents next offseason while Montas is a free agent in 2024).

The obvious downside to trading for a starter versus signing a free agent starter is that the Blue Jays would have to surrender some prospect capital or a low salary roster player like Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to get any type of traction on a deal, which could jeopardize other potential trade discussions (scroll back up to the Jose Ramirez bit). However, there is arguably more upside with a player like Lopez or Bassitt compared to what is currently left on the open market (and in the Jays potential budget for a fifth starter) so if the right deal can be made, the clubs’ rotation could be one of the hottest in the American League next season.

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Could the front office try and sign a higher-value player like Rodon or Kershaw? Possibly, especially since they were interested in Corey Seager before he signed with Texas and have talked with Freddie Freeman’s reps before the lockout. Chances are that they will most likely take a gamble on either a bounce-back candidate or a trade partner before that happens though.