Blue Jays: Important dates to keep track of this offseason
With the World Series now complete, it's time to turn our attention towards the Blue Jays and the offseason, as there are a few different areas that need improvements on the active roster and a particularly strong free agent class this winter.
As the general manager's meeting in Las Vegas comes to a close today, there is a chance that the trade markets across the league could ramp up rather quickly given some impending timelines so close to the postseason being wrapped up.
Let's take a quick look at some of the important dates coming up this offseason and how they impact the Toronto Blue Jays
November 10th - Free Agency Begins, Contract Options, and the Qualifying Offer
While all eligible players became free agents after the World Series came to an end, they were only able to negotiate and sign with their own clubs. After five days have passed, as of 5:00pm EST today, any and all free agents are allowed to sign with any club of their choosing.
The Blue Jays only have three players heading to the open market in RHP Ross Stripling, RHP David Phelps, and OF Jackie Bradley Jr. One of the most significant question marks heading into this offseason was whether the Blue Jays would bring back Stripling, who stepped up to be a starter when Hyun Jin Ryu hit the IL and authored a 3.01 ERA through 32 appearances.
A few different articles and journalists from around the game are predicting a multi-year deal in the $10-$13 million range, which in my mind seems like a good fit for the Jays to bring him back. As per Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith, the Blue Jays have been in contact with the right-hander this offseason about having him reutrn to the team for next year and possibly beyond.
The Jays' front office could also present him with a qualifying offer but must do so by today at 5:00 pm EST. I believe Stripling would sign the QO if presented with it and I would prefer if he signed a multi-year deal over the one-year contract but we will have to wait and see whether Ross Atkins and co. go that route or not. If Stripling rejects a qualifying offer, the Jays will be entitled to draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere.
The Blue Jays can now also sign any free agent later today, and with the club needing another starter or two (especially if Stripling signs elsewhere), another bullpen arm or two, and a left-handed bat, it could be a busy offseason for Ross Atkins and team, as the club has to also navigate a payroll that will likely sit over $200 million this upcoming season
Important dates to watch out for that involve the Toronto Blue Jays
Today was also the day when most clubs and players would have to decide on their contract options, depending on the player and the option in question.
For the Blue Jays, they only had to worry about Anthony Bass, as he had a $3 million club option for next season, which the club exercised.
November 15th: 40-man rosters must be set for the Rule 5 Draft
The Rule 5 draft returns this season after being cancelled last year due to the lockout. For the Blue Jays, there are a handful of players that definitely fit the category of needing to be protected, such as INF Orelvis Martinez, INF Spencer Horwitz, INF Addison Barger, and RHP Yosver Zulueta amongst others.
As of right now, the Blue Jays have 38 roster spots on the 40-man after outrighting LHP Tayler Saucedo (who was picked up by the Mets) and RHP Casey Lawrence, who heads down to Buffalo. The squad will need one spot for Ryu to return from the 60-day IL, so there will likely be quite a few more moves so the Jays can have some roster space for the Rule 5 draft and any free-agent signings.
Players that I would consider on the bubble in terms of roster space include LHP Foster Griffin, LHP Anthony Kay, INF Vinny Capra (who also is on the 60-day IL and will need a roster spot during activation), RHP Trent Thornton, and OF Bradley Zimmer.
November 18th: Non-tender deadline for arbitration players
The Blue Jays have 13 players heading to arbitration this offseason as per Spotrac, including Santiago Espinal who was classified as a Super 2 player earlier this month. This will take up a sizeable chunk of change of the 2023 payroll, with stars like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Teoscar Hernández getting sizeable raises. The club also has a few players hitting arbitration for the first time like Bo Bichette and Jordan Romano, who will also earn raises after making pre-arbitration money last year.
The Blue Jays could gain some roster space if they decide to non-tender any arbitration-eligible players, saving some salary space in the process as well. Overall, I don't believe the Jays' have a ton of non-tender candidates but both Thornton and Zimmer could fit into this category, although both players don't hit the cap too hard compared to some of the others on the list. This would be more for roster space for the Rule 5 draft in my mind, which would need to be set before this deadline.
There also could be an argument made to non-tender Raimel Tapia, who will likely earn around $5 million during the arbitration process, which could be too steep a price for a bench outfielder. I doubt this will happen though, as I believe Tapia did enough to prove that he belongs on the team and hits from the left side, which the Jays lack on the current active roster. Moving him could come later this offseason if the Blue Jays sign a left-handed bat this winter.
Other Dates to Watch for:
November 20th: Deadline for players to accept the qualifying offer
December 4th - 7th: Winter Meetings
December 7th: Rule 5 Draft
January 15th, 2023: International Signing Period Opens