At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this offseason remains an extremely uninspiring one for Blue Jays fans. While nothing can make up for losing out on Shohei Ohtani, the organisation has still not done nearly enough to convince anyone they will be a genuine contender in 2024.
When Isiah Kiner-Falefa is your only new addition, it seems more than fair for fans to question how invested the front office is in pursuing the World Series this coming season. There is still plenty of uncertainty surrounding the roster, specifically the offence.
Ross Atkins can talk all he wants about the current team being good enough to win it all, but this is quite simply not true. Even if Vladimir Guerrero Jr. suddenly returns to his MVP-level form of 2021, it still arguably won't be quite enough to sufficiently boost a lineup which was underwhelming last season.
The problem is, the Blue Jays' options are becoming increasingly limited. Along these lines, the likes of Rhys Hoskins, Trey Mancini and Joc Pederson have all now found new homes.
Pederson in particular is worthy of note, given that he was reportedly a major target for the Blue Jays this offseason. In fact, as per Sportsnet's Shi Davidi, there is some level of surprise a deal never came to fruition, given the team's apparent interest in the two-time All-Star every time he's been available.
There are still some enticing options out there, but Atkins and company need to strike soon. They certainly need to do something, with the Blue Jays fans base only becoming more disillusioned with every passing day.
One position the Blue Jays could well do with improving, is DH. As good a hitter as Danny Jansen is when he's on his game, he shouldn't be the starting DH as he's currently projected to be.
Is Soler on the radar?
One of the main option still out there is Jorge Soler, who we've mentioned before. In fact earlier this month, MLB insider Jon Heyman claimed Soler was down to choosing between the Blue Jays and the Boston Red Sox.
Certainly the 2023 All-Star would be an excellent addition for the Blue Jays. He's coming off a season where his 36 home runs, 75 RBI, .853 OPS and 128 OPS+ were all the second most of his time in the Majors as a regular starter.
Yes Soler hasn't always been the most consistent of players, but there's no denying his talent and ability. He has two championships on his resume, with him proving he can rise to the occasion by being named World Series MVP in 2021.
So why have the Blue Jays not signed the 31-year-old yet? One possible reason -- as always -- is money.
In this respect, Soler is projected to get a deal of around three years and $45M, which we know the Blue Jays can more than afford. Again, how willing they are to splash the cash will speak volumes about how invested they are in challenging for the World Series in 2024.
Another couple of DH options
If the Blue Jays decide not to go all-in on Soler -- in fairness also depending on if he even wants to be in Toronto -- who else can they consider? Another couple of options are J.D. Martinez and Justin Turner.
Starting with Martinez, don't be put off by the fact he's now 36. The guy can still hit, as evidenced by 33 home runs and 103 RBI last season, which contributed towards a .893 OPS and 134 OPS+.
Even the three-time Silver Slugger's propensity for inconsistency and injury have for the most part been eradicated, with his move to almost exclusively being a DH in recent seasons. If nothing else he can prove to be an excellent short-term solution, with a projected contract of one year and $14M.
Turning to Turner, Martinez's former teammate is another 'mature' short-term option who is projected to get a deal for one year and $14M. Yes he's now 39, but consider that among other things, last year saw him set a new single-season best of 96 RBI, on his way to a .800 OPS and 114 OPS+.
In addition, unlike Martinez, the two-time All-Star can provide plenty of versatilty and cover defensively. While the majority of his starts last year were at DH, he did see a combined 58 games of action at first, second and third base.
Bring Belt back?
Interestingly, Brandon Belt is still available and as per re-signing Kevin Kiermaier, we know the Blue Jays are not averse to going back over old ground. Belt would also theoretically prove to be a cheaper option compared to the ones already mentioned, with a projected contract value of one year and $12M.
Further, after a poor start to the 2023 campaign, the two-time World Series champion proved to be one of the Blue Jays' better bats. Even allowing for his career-high strikeout rate of 34.9 percent, he led all regulars with a .369 OBP, .490 slugging percentage and .858 OPS.
Admittedly though, more than Kiermaier, bringing Belt back would feel like a step back, again when considering some of the aforementioned other options. In any event, if we move away from DH specifically, there is still one extremely enticing bat out there that the Blue Jays should be seriously considering.
Still the best option out there
We are of course talking about Cody Bellinger, who amazingly is still available despite being one of the best free agent options available outside of Ohtani. Similar to Soler, the Blue Jays have already been touted as one of the best fits for Bellinger.
How could the Blue Jays -- or anyway for that matter -- not have signed the two-time All-Star yet? At 28 years of age he's still in his prime and coming off one of his best seasons.
Bellinger was named NL Comeback Player of the Year, as he won his second Silver Slugger Award. His .307 batting average was the highest of his career and his 97 RBI were tied for his second-most, as he went on to produce a .881 OPS and 133 OPS+.
In addition, unlike some of the other options mentioned -- if not all of them --the two-time All-Star can still play regularly on defence. And even allowing for him mostly playing centre field like Kiermaier, he spent a lot of time at first base last season. (He has also seen time in the corner fields and DH during his seven years in the Majors.)
In truth, it once more comes down to money, with Bellinger projected to be get around six years and $162M. Yes it's a lot of money, but you have to be prepared to fork out top dollar for the best players if you want to be taken seriously,
Overall, there are still enough options for the Blue Jays to go for, including some quality ones who would genuinely boost the lineup. What (else) the front office decides to do between now and the start of the regular season, will go some way towards telling fans about their mindset for the upcoming season.