A Bold Offseason Move For The Blue Jays And Their AL East Rivals
After MVP finalist Marcus Semien took his talents to Texas, it became obvious that the Blue Jays were going to have to try and replace his production with an addition this offseason. The popular name linked to the club has been Guardian’s third baseman Jose Ramirez.
Ramirez checks a lot of boxes, however, I believe he may be out of the Jays’ range from a prospect standpoint, as I previously mentioned, a team like Tampa Bay could blow the Jays away with the depth they have in their farm system. Also, it may not be a bad idea for the Jays to hold onto some of their more highly regarded prospects. With extensions for Teoscar Hernández, Bo Bichette, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. on the horizon, having cheap, young talent at their disposal will help soften the blow once those previously mentioned names begin to earn larger salaries.
The Blue Jays still have a void to fill, and while Ramirez is the preferred option by most fans and media members, there are still other quality candidates that could be on the move this offseason. I’ve already mentioned how it’s clear that Oakland is looking to deal almost anyone on their big league roster this winter. Because of this, I believe the Jays could use the Bay Area based team to fill two needs for a lower cost than Ramirez by himself.
The main piece in this hypothetical return from Oakland would be Matt Chapman. Personally, I’m a big supporter of the California native, and have been campaigning for him to be a member of this club since last offseason. The two things that jump out when looking at Chapman as a player are his defensive abilities and the raw power he possesses. Chapman has developed into one of the best defenders on the planet during his time with the A’s, posting an outs above average rating of 48 since entering the league back in 2017, and racking up two platinum glove awards as well.
Offensively, Chapman has had his fair share of ups and downs throughout his career. The raw power is there, as the Cal State product has hit 25+ long balls in two of the last three seasons (hit 10 in 2020, on pace for 43). The former All-Star has shown the ability to consistently make hard contact, finishing within the 90th percentile of both average exit velocity and hard hit percentage in three of the last four seasons. The ability to create hard contact leads me to believe that a move to the hitter-friendly AL East could result in an uptick in Chapman’s home run total, which would make him a much more valuable offensive player.
There is some swing and miss in Chapman’s game, which has been the primary reason for some down seasons over the course of his career. Despite this, the upside he could provide is real, and if the Blue Jays acquire him they’ll be getting a 28 year old that at the bare minimum will play elite defence at third, with the potential to hit 40+ long balls due to playing in a much more hitter-friendly ball park.
Along with Chapman, the A’s have expressed interest in moving three of their key starters this winter. Even after adding Kevin Gausman before the work stoppage the Jays still have a need in their rotation, and will be looking to add another arm to fill that fifth spot.
I’ve recently written an article about why I believe Sean Manaea is a perfect fit for the Blue Jays due to the potential he has displayed over the course of his career, and the low risk attached to him due to having just one year remaining on his contract. Acquiring Manaea would give the Jays one of the best “fifth staters” in baseball, and provide them with another hurler that has shown flash of developing into a top of the rotation arm
Jose Ramirez would be the dream acquisition for the Jays this offseason. However, the Jose Berrios trade package would be the starting point for what the Guardians ask for when discussing moving their franchise player. Chapman is coming off of a down season and Manaea only has one year of arbitration remaining. This should reduce the value of both players, meaning the Blue Jays could have the opportunity to fill two key holes on their roster, with quality players for a cheaper cost than solely acquiring Ramirez.