The Toronto Blue Jays are set up for success in the future and the present, with several young stars on their roster.
The organization also features some key veteran talent, some of whom are coming towards the end of their current contracts.
The Jays would be wise to retain the services of Matt Chapman, Ross Stripling, and David Phelps. They may not be the best or most popular players on the team, but they’ve been steady contributors and have all earned a raise.
Blue Jays: Extend Matt Chapman
When the MLB lockout ended, Blue Jays fans were keen on what moves might be coming, particularly for the infield. The team was still reeling from the loss of Marcus Semien, so when they traded four prospects to Oakland for Matt Chapman, it was an exciting addition.
He came with the reputation of being one of the best defensive third basemen around, with a powerful swing and, after a disappointing 2021, something to prove.
His presence at the hot corner has vastly improved Toronto’s infield defence and, after a slow start, Chapman has really heated up over the past month or so. Since July 4th, Chapman is hitting .314 with 11 homers, 22 RBI, and a 1.078 OPS. That hot streak has enhanced his season stats and even has him closing in on the team home run lead, with 22, just one behind Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Shortly after joining the team, Chapman signed a two-year extension, one that will keep him in blue through the 2023 campaign. As tempting as it might be for “Chappy” to test the free agent waters, he seems to have found a comfort level with the Jays. He will command a competitive salary, one Mark Shapiro and company should be happy to meet.
Blue Jays: Run it back, Ross
All Ross Stripling has done since becoming a Blue Jay in 2020 is, well, anything they ask of him. Come out of the bullpen, spot start, occasional member of the rotation, long man out of the ‘pen, whatever. Other than an ugly moment of being visibly upset when Joe Panik failed to make a play two years ago, Stripling has been the ultimate team player.
That could either strengthen the Blue Jays’ case to re-sign him or weaken it. On one hand, Stripling could be a long-term member of what has the chance to be a sustainably great team. However, if he takes his talents somewhere else it would likely give him the chance to be a regular starter, something he’s never really been.
Stripling is due to hit free agency after this season. He’s certainly earned a raise from his current $3.79 million salary. The Blue Jays will probably at least make a decent offer to keep the veteran in the fold. From there, Stripling holds the keys.
Blue Jays: Do it, David
Phelps has quietly put together a solid season in 2022 after injuries derailed a promising start last year. He may not have the gaudy strikeout totals many pundits claim is the missing piece of the bullpen, but he’s tough and keeps the ball in the ballpark.
Phelps hasn’t given up a single home run in 43 innings pitched this season and has an opponent’s batting average of just .213. None of his other numbers really stand out, but he’s a competitor who has earned some high-leverage spots this season.
Bullpens can be a tricky thing to predict and relievers are often inconsistent. Phelps has shown enough steadiness to think that bringing him back on a one-year deal would be a good idea.
The Jays will have to be careful with money over the next several years with some of their big-name players set to hit the jackpot sooner rather than later. Inking these three would help stabilize a roster destined for extraordinary things in the coming years.