The Toronto Blue Jays have been busy in recent days, making concerted efforts to improve what is already an extremely talented roster.
These moves, combined with the pieces already in place, have the Jays looking like the class of the American League. The team hasn’t had expectations this high entering a season since 2013, and we all know how that turned out. So, how will they handle the high hopes placed upon them this time?
Blue Jays, World Series or bust?
When Toronto loaded up prior to the 2013 season, acquiring Jose Reyes, and R.A. Dickey, among others, Blue Jays nation was thinking World Series. That team struggled and never came close to reaching the gaudy projections placed on them.
This spending spree and upcoming season have a different feel to them. For one, they’re coming off a 91-win season, one that saw them fall just a game short of a playoff spot. Back in 2013, the Jays were coming off a 73-89 campaign and made a series of moves just to be competitive and relevant. As per Fangraphs, the Blue Jays currently have a 91.1% chance of making the playoffs and a 12.7% chance of winning the World Series, behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers at 16.1%
The recent players acquired by the Jays feel more like a final step towards a championship path. Also, replacing Robbie Ray and Marcus Semien with Kevin Gausman and Matt Chapman is pretty much a wash.
Adding Kikuchi to the rotation is similar to an artist putting the finishing touches on their newest piece. The “heavy lifting” on the staff was done with the Gausman signing and trading for and then extending Jose Berrios. There’s a belief that, although Berrios is a two-time All-Star, he’s still an ascending talent and can reach another level.
Chapman is the player the Jays need, a two-time Platinum Glove winner with power on a great contract. Adding a player of his calibre defensively is more important to the team’s success than anything he does with the bat. He could bat lower in the lineup and wouldn’t be under pressure to be “the guy” offensively.
This team understands the pressure they’re under and that every team will be gunning for them Vladimir Guerrero Jr’s recent comments didn’t shy away from the massive goals Toronto is working to accomplish.
The moves have been made, the pieces are in place, now there’s just one thing left to do.