The ofseason is here and the Toronto Blue Jays have numerous decisions to make. As things stand, they are not a genuine contender, but also not a bad team in need of a rebuild.
This leads to questions about what the Blue Jays can do, to improve the roster and make themselves a viable candidate to compete for the World Series next year? This will be the most important offseason of Ross Atkins' tenure in Toronto, with him already -- quite rightly -- under increasing pressure.
When it comes to what decisions and moves Atikins makes, this includes decided who needs to be moved. Here is a look at four trade candidates, who for different reasons can help bring in the right pieces to strengthen the team:
We can appreciate why some people will question the Blue Jays wanting to trade Yusei Kikuchi. After all, he became an integral part of the rotation in 2023 after entering the season facing low expectations.
Kikuchi had his best campaign yet in five years of Major League action, as he equalled his previous high of 32 starts. He set single-season bests with 11 wins, a 3.86 ERA, 181 strikeouts, a 1.270 WHIP and 2.6 walks per nine innings.
However, it is for this reason, why it would make sense to trade the 32-year-old now. Essentially it's a case of trying to get what you can while his value is at its highest.
Kikuchi has shown signs of what he's capable of before, specifically during the first half of the 2021 season with the Mariners. He produced a 6-3 record, 3.18 ERA and 1.029 WHIP through 15 games, as he was named an All-Star for the first time.
More generally speaking, we're talking about a talented southpaw who can rack up the strikeouts when he's on his game. However, he's also proven to be extremely erratic, including poor production in the second half of 2021 and during his first year in Toronto.
The indications point towards the 2023 season representing the peak of Kikuchi's career in the Majors. Combine this with his age, unreliability and having just one year left on his contract, and now is the right time to move on from him.