It has been quite the offseason for fans of the Toronto Blue Jays. While we're inching closer and closer to pitchers and catchers reporting, it feels like these past few months have been moving at a snail's pace.
There have been oh, so many chances for the Jays' front office to strike this winter and improve an offensive unit that desperately needed it. Shohei Ohtani and Juan Soto, a free agent and trade target, both were on the radar of the Jays, but signed/were traded elsewhere. As of the latest from the rumor mill, Cody Bellinger, JD Martinez and Jorge Soler don't seem to be inching any closer to a deal with Toronto, either.
This led Jim Bowden, an ex-MLB general manager who now writes for The Athletic, to include Blue Jays fans in his latest "winners and losers of the offseason" article. He names followers of the Jays as the offseason's second biggest loser(s) after ex-Cubs manager David Ross.
Unfortunately, he's not wrong. The Blue Jays have been "in on" so many players this offseason and have, to this point, come away empty-handed. Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Kevin Kiermaier have been the only two offensive additions, but neither are going to move the needle much with the bat. It's obvious that each of them will be more valuable with their defensive contributions than their offensive ones.
The team that the Blue Jays put on the field every day last season was one capable of going on a deep run into the postseason. The offense - on paper, at least - was supposed to be as lethal as they come. The pitching staff had a few question marks entering the season, but all of the preseason worries melted away once Yusei Kikuchi and Jose Berrios bounced back and the bullpen became elite.
Poor performances from, well, the vast majority of the offense is what led to the 2023 Blue Jays' downfall. So the plan for how the 2023-2024 offseason should go involved adding multiple bats to a lineup that just couldn't score runs for the life of them last season.
That's the tough part of expectations versus reality. Ohtani and Soto are a Dodger and Yankee, respectively. Old friends Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Teoscar Hernandez, both of whom made a great deal of sense to reunite on the Jays, signed elsewhere. Heck, there was even a time where Marcus Stroman and/or Yoshinobu Yamamoto had loose ties to the Jays. Again, each hurler went elsewhere. Over and over, Blue Jays fans have been forced to watch each and every "ideal target" join rival teams.
Fortunately, there is still a way to remedy this situation. Matt Chapman, Soler, Martinez and Bellinger all remain unsigned. Each of them have been loosely linked to the Blue Jays throughout the offseason, so there's a fit to be made there. It's just a matter of Ross Atkins and Co. doing what's necessary to get these guys to put pen to paper.