Blue Jays: The AL East is in for a shift in the landscape
A big winter ahead for the Blue Jays
Last but not least is our beloved Toronto Blue Jays, who have a very important offseason of their own to worry about in the coming months. They’ll need to improve the depth in their starting rotation behind Alek Manoah, Kevin Gausman, and Jose Berrios, especially if they aren’t able to re-sign Ross Stripling. They’ll also need to move the needle with an addition or two for the bullpen, who even though they were a strong unit in the second half, still showed some flaws when the pressure was at its highest. Lastly, the talk around needing a better left-handed bat isn’t going to go away any time soon either.
On top of looking to add to their roster, the Blue Jays will have some significant decisions to make when it comes to the trade market. They have arguably the strongest catching depth in baseball between Danny Jansen, Alejandro Kirk, and Gabriel Moreno, and they could easily find interested trade partners if they want to swap that depth out to improve another area of the roster. There’s also the impending free agency of several of their position players after next season, such as Teoscar Hernandez, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Whit Merrifield, and others. It wouldn’t be at all surprising if the Blue Jays traded one of their outfielders this offseason either, especially if they’re looking to make room for the aforementioned left-handed bat.
The Blue Jays definitely have some work to do to go from their 92-win season in 2022 to being able to lead baseball’s toughest division, but in my bias opinion, I like how they’re set up at the moment better than any of their rivals. That doesn’t mean that I think they’re a shoe-in at all, and it’s going to take some strong moves this winter to bring them the finishing touches they need for the roster, but Atkins should have the resources to do what they need to between payroll and the trade chips at his disposal.
As far as the potential shifting landscape of the AL East, the moves made this winter will go a long way to determining the future of the competition. Still, my early (and admittedly bias) rankings would see the Blue Jays at the top, followed by the Rays, Yankees, Orioles, and the Red Sox.
We’ll see if that’s how things go over the winter, but with a lot of balls in the air for most of the league, the landscape could look a lot different by the time teams start reporting next spring.