Blue Jays: Why patience might be the best answer for now

There’s a good chance that the Blue Jays will still look to add to their roster ahead of the 2022 season, but patience may be their best strategy, at least to begin with.

Don’t get me wrong, I very much want to see the front office bring in more depth for both the starting rotation and the bullpen, especially after the way that injuries ravaged the roster in 2021. I’d also like to see a supplementary piece of two brought into the fold, like a left-handed hitting outfielder such as Corey Dickerson, for example.

However, when it comes to major moves that the Blue Jays could make to improve their starting lineup, I’d be okay with them standing pat for the time being, unless the right deal comes together.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the past couple of days, and while I realize I’m a bias Jays fan, I don’t think I’m out to lunch about wanting to see more from a few of the players that are already on the roster. In particular, I’m talking about three different individuals who could all impact the perceived “holes” on the roster at the moment.

I’ll start with Danny Jansen, and while I don’t think many people see the catching position as a problem in Toronto, a lot of folks believe that the future is yet to come back there, myself included for the most part. That’s because Gabriel Moreno has been charging his way through the minor leagues and has emerged as the Blue Jays top prospect these days, and he’s often looked at as the catcher of the future in Toronto. That still may be the case, but he’s going to have to take the job down the line from a talented trio that is already in house including Jansen, Alejandro Kirk, and Reese McGuire. That might be easier said than done.

Kirk has already shown himself to be a plus-hitter for his position, and the same could be said about Jansen with the way he performed in the latter stages of the 2021 campaign. Jansen struggled with the bat early in the year, but he finished the second half on a tear, and ultimately slashed .323/.380/.785 over 23 second half games, also posting seven home runs and 19 RBI over just 65 at-bats.

I’m not suggesting that Jansen can sustain those numbers, but I think he’s a far better hitter than he gets credit for, even if it’s taken a while to show up in his big league production. He was rated as an above-average two-way player as he made his way through the minor leagues, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he rates as a top 10 MLB catcher in 2022 as long as he can stay healthy.

As I fantasized about the high end of Jansen’s potential, that led me to thinking about how that would impact Moreno’s progress as he looks to make his MLB debut some time in 2022. Personally, I’d be happy to see a job share between Moreno and Jansen going forward, especially because the latter could be an important mentor for the young receiver. On top of that, there might be another way to keep them both in the lineup if Moreno keeps developing his defensive versatility. Earlier this offseason there were several positive reports about his work as a third baseman, and it’s an idea that the Blue Jays could very well explore, especially early in 2022. The reality is, Moreno projects to have a pretty special bat and keeping him in the lineup more regularly with a position change could be a smart move.

In addition to Jansen and Moreno, I’m excited to see what 2022 has in store for both Cavan Biggio and Santiago Espinal. The former will look to bounce back from an injury-riddled 2021 campaign that saw him lose a lot of the hype around his game, but we don’t have to look back very far to see how valuable he can be when he’s right. I believe that a move back to second base would also be to his benefit, and would help him regain the confidence at a position that better suits him. If we see the 2019-20 version of Biggio again the the Blue Jays will be in great shape.

As for Espinal, he proved himself as a defensive asset last season, and contributed more with the bat than expected. I view him as an excellent utility/platoon player, but he could be even more with a regular opportunity as well. I don’t think his ceiling is as high as the other three, but I’ve been wrong before, and I still think he’ll be an important and reliable contributor going forward.

Ultimately I believe that the Blue Jays likely still should add to their infield depth chart, but I don’t think they need to make an overly aggressive move if the right opportunity isn’t available, and it probably doesn’t need to be a long-term solution either. There is a ton of upside on their current roster already, and with a little patience they could get tremendous value from guys like Jansen, Biggio, Espinal, and eventually Moreno. For that reason and more, I’ll understand if the Blue Jays want to give things a little more time to evaluate their in-house options, and save some of their money and trade assets for the deadline instead.