It's clear that at this point, the Toronto Blue Jays have not exactly "won" the 2023-2024 offseason. In fact, they've been one of the quieter teams despite the fact that they came oh so close to landing one of the top free agents in baseball history.
As of right now, the lone additions have come in the past few weeks. The Blue Jays made a move to bring Kevin Kiermaier back for one more year. He said in his (re)introductory Zoom call that he did not receive the amount of interest his representatives thought he'd get this offseason, which makes it feel a lot like he chose the Jays because they were the only option. However, his otherworldly defense and surprisingly strong bat from last year will be a great fit on the 2024 installment of this team.
The other move? Signing utilityman Isiah Kiner-Falefa to a two-year, $15M contract. IKF has long had a reputation of being a slick-fielding player who can bounce around all over the diamond. He's yet another strong defender who will give the Blue Jays another above-average glove. However, he's got little-to-no bat, but apparently we're supposed to just ignore that.
What IKF's addition to the Blue Jays does is create a rather unique logjam. Suddenly, there are a ton of players who all need playing time at the same positions. The six-year veteran has some experience in the outfield but he primarily calls second, third and shortstop home.
Yes, that's the very same second, third and shortstop that each of Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Davis Schneider, Santiago Espinal, Otto Lopez, Ernie Clement, Orelvis Martinez, Addison Barger and Leo Jimenez call their positions by trade. Each of these players are on the 40-man roster, but the latter four are likely to open the year in Triple-A or in another organization entirely.
Ditto for Espinal, who now feels like the most obvious trade candidate of all-time. The 29-year-old experienced quite the regression last year, seeing nearly every single statistic of his dip from a 2022 performance that earned him a spot in the All-Star Game. However, we've said it before and we'll say it again, he hit .375 with a 152 wRC+ in his final 51 at-bats of the 2023 season. This either earned him a spot on the 2024 roster or did just enough to make him worth something in a trade.
That performance doesn't stop his name from being thrown in the rumor mill. In fact, MLB Trade Rumors recently put together a piece identifying some names the Miami Marlins could target in a trade. The Marlins have nothing set in stone at shortstop for the 2024 campaign, and Espinal just so happens to play that position. Despite the fact that he has been blocked by Bichette for years now, he's still a capable defender at the spot.
The fit between these two clubs as trade partners could not be more perfect. Espinal would immediately serve as an upgrade over former Blue Jay Jon Berti, who is currently projected to be the club's every day option there. Behind Berti, Vidal Brujan and Xavier Edwards are on hand as utility options, but they're not players worth handing a starting gig to.
As far as what kind of players the Blue Jays could target in a trade, the Marlins have a few. Before we continue, it's worth mentioning that the Jays will not come away with any star-caliber players in a potential deal. Espinal has his value, but it's not exactly sky-high right now.
Most tradeable assets from the Marlins come in the form of pitchers. Right-handed starter Edward Cabrera is a name I've seen floated by some, as is A.J. Puk, a left-handed reliever. Another intriguing option could be someone like Josh Simpson, a left-handed pitcher who has yet to earn a shot in the big leagues.
Simpson, 26, struck out over 15 batters per nine innings last year but has had some issues with walks over the years. He feels like a perfect buy-low candidate for the Blue Jays to throw in their pitching lab and work their magic. It's unclear where exactly his trade value is at as of right now, but a one-for-one swap for him and Espinal feels like a solid bet to me.