Blue Jays: Biggest additions, subtractions and breakout candidates for AL East rivals
Biggest addition: RHP Mychal Givens
Mychal Givens is in the midst of a very weird string of seasons. In each of the last three years, he has a great first half, is traded at the deadline, and upon going to a new team, immediately falls off.
First Half ERA
Second Half ERA
1.38 (13 IP)
6.75 (9.1 IP)
2.73 (29.2 IP)
4.22 (21.1 IP)
2.66 (40.2 IP)
4.79 (20.2 IP)
This must mean that as long as you don't trade him, Givens will be great. In all seriousness though, you have to imagine that if he stays put for a full season, not having to adjust to a new environment would help him in the second half.
The Orioles signed Givens to a one-year, $5M dollar deal with a mutual 2024 option back in December for his second stint with the club. He had started his career with the O's in 2015 until he was traded to the Rockies in 2020 and has since bounced around the NL, finishing 2022 with the Mets. His control is a bit shaky but he produces tons of strikeouts, averaging over 10 per nine innings for his career, and should add to what is already a really solid bullpen.
Biggest loss: RHP Jordan Lyles
Admittedly, Jordan Lyles isn't that big of a loss, since he's not all that great, but his 179 innings pitched in 2022 were more than 50 more than any other Orioles pitcher, and it's not always easy to find that. They did, however, bring in two free agent starters to try and fill the void he'll leave after signing with the Royals, so maybe that won't be a problem at all. One of the perks of being such a young team is that you rarely lose important pieces, and for the Orioles that is certainly the case. Lyles is definitely their biggest loss, but not one they'll lose sleep over.
Breakout candidate: SS Gunnar Henderson
This might be an obvious one, but Gunnar Henderson is MLB Pipeline's No. 1 prospect for a reason. He made his MLB debut last season, appearing in 34 games and posting a 125 wRC+ over that stretch. However, he was 14 at-bats short of the 130 at-bat threshold to exceed rookie status, so 2023 will technically be his rookie year. He absolutely mashed in the minors and has the ability to be a legit five-tool player. The advanced metrics love him too, sitting well above the major league average in most areas, so there's plenty of reason to expect him to continue his success in 2023. The O's are loaded with young talent right now, and if players like Henderson pan out, they'll be a problem for the Blue Jays and the rest of the division.