Blue Jays: How each roster decision impacts the next
Over the last day or two, speculation has understandably run rampant among Blue Jays circles. That's what happens when a 2x Silver Slugger is traded though, and even more so when there is no immediate replacement ready to take their place.
With Teoscar Hernandez now a Seattle Mariner after Wednesday's deal that brought Erik Swanson and Adam Macko to Toronto in exchange for their popular veteran slugger, Blue Jays fans understandably want to know who is going to take over in right field next season, and what this trade might mean for the rest of the offseason plans. As far as I can tell on social media, there is a wide variety of reactions ranging from rage about losing a popular player, to excitement about what comes next.
At this point we don't know how far down the road the other roster moves are, but it wouldn't be terribly surprising if the Blue Jays were going to act fairly quickly after moving on from Hernandez. The market seems to be moving at a decent pace in general so far, at least in terms of rumoured interest with the top free agents, and there have been a handful of early deals signed as well. Now that the pandemic and a new CBA are behind us, I expect that it should be a more typical offseason as far as free agency goes.
For the Blue Jays, the tricky part will be balancing what direction they want to go to fill out the rest of their roster needs. What I mean by that is, they only have so many trade chips (or at least top tier ones), and likely have a limit to what they can spend in free agency as well. Considering that they're likely looking to add at least an outfielder to replace Hernandez, a starting pitcher for the rotation, and likely a back-up outfielder, there is work yet to be done. That said, the timing is going to be key.
For example, let's say the Blue Jays are able to fill their rotation need through a trade of one of their coveted catchers. That would mean that they could likely turn to the free agent market to find another outfielder, which could include the likes of Brandon Nimmo, Michael Brantley, or possibly Cody Bellinger, should he be non-tendered by the Dodgers. On the other hand, they could acquire an outfielder through trade, and then sign a starter on the free agent market, such as bringing back Ross Stripling, or maybe looking at alternatives like Chris Bassitt, Jose Quintana, or maybe even taking a bigger swing by pursuing the ageless wonder that is Justin Verlander.
It's entirely possible that they come up with a different plan, but given the potential payroll limitations this offseason, I have a feeling they're going to have to do their heavy lifting between the two avenues, and maybe balance the salaries they're taking on at the same time. That's also part of why I believe Atkins and company will look to act sooner than later, as they did with their first trade moving Hernandez to the Mariners, and improving the pitching staff at the same time.
Of course, they're only one piece of the market, and whether that's convincing free agents to sign on the dotted line, or a trade partner to officially agree on a deal, there's only so much that's in the Blue Jays' control. At a time when one significant roster decision will impact another, timing will be key.