The Toronto Blue Jays will have a different look to their team, dugout, and even the broadcast booth in 2023.
When Teoscar Hernández was jettisoned to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for reliever Erik Swanson and pitching prospect Adam Macko, it marked a clear shift in team building and had Jays fans wondering, who will they bring in to attempt to replace the high level of production left behind.
The rumor mill has been active ever since then, and the free-agent and trade markets present plenty of interesting players the team could consider.
Blue Jays: The obvious trade targets
Even before the big trade with Seattle happened, picturing Brandon Nimmo in a Blue Jays uniform made sense. Now, with Hernández out the door and George Springer primed to play less often in center field, it’s a no-brainer.
He’s a left-handed bat with decent power (16 HR in 2022) and a legitimate centerfielder. Nimmo runs well, gets on base at a great clip (.385 career OBP), and has shown steady improvement defensively.
The thing is, The Jays are hardly the only team that could use a player like Nimmo, a bidding war is likely and his contract could command five years and over $100 million. With some big obligations already on the books and some more that are in the pipeline, it’s fair to wonder if the club is willing to take on another sizeable deal.
As the deadline was approaching, there was much speculation about whether or not the Los Angeles Dodgers would keep Cody Bellinger or non-tender him. When he was cut loose, the idea of him suiting up for the Blue Jays seemed, and continues to be, a real possibility.
Bellinger has big power but has barely hit over .200 over the last three seasons. He is an elite defender in the middle of the outfield and wouldn’t be under a ton of pressure to be the main guy offensively. He could hit in the bottom half of the lineup and would see plenty of pitches to hit.
Bellinger is a strong candidate to receive a one-year deal and then if all works out, test free agency again in 2023. The Jays could have him for a good time, but not a long time and he may choose another team after getting back on track in Toronto. Then again, Belli may be compelled to stick around long-term with the team that gave him another chance. Either way, he’d be a worthwhile risk to take.