Blue Jays: Is the team now ready for next season?

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High Leverage Reliever

In November, they’d traded one year of Teoscar Hernández to Seattle for a ‘swing and miss’ reliever in Erik Swanson, and a top-10 prospect in the Jays system in pitcher Adam Macko. But Swanson only throws 94mph and is reliant on his off-speed stuff to generate strikeouts, so the need for 100mph gas at the backend of the bullpen remains.

Certainly Zulueta and Nate Pearson are internal relief options who can both reach 100mph when healthy, which hasn’t been a consistent probability. Like Mitch White, the always injured Julian Merryweather is out of minor league options, and both of those pitchers will have to make the team out of Spring Training or pass through the waiver wire if the Jays want to try and sneak them down to Buffalo as depth.

LHH Power Bat

Left-handed outfield options to provide depth - given both George Springer (elbow) and Kiermaier (torn labrum in his hip) are coming off surgeries - include free agents Michael Conforto and Michael Brantley, but they’re both coming off surgeries as well. Trade candidates include Bryan Reynolds of the Pittsburgh Pirates, as well as Daulton Varsho or Alek Thomas of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Catchers

The Jays still have their trio of MLB catchers in Danny Jansen, Alejandro Kirk and rookie Gabriel Moreno. The thinking is that they’re trying to move one of them in a trade for an outfielder or starting pitching. Catchers have been highly valued this offseason, with the St. Louis Cardinals signing Willson Contreras to a 5 year, $87.5M contract, and Atlanta trading for A’s catcher Sean Murphy in a blockbuster deal.

There has also been some chatter that a potential deal between the Jays and Cardinals broke down, with a swap of Cardinals closer Ryan Helsley and Danny Jansen not happening. Note, the 27-year-old Jansen has two years of team control and salary arbitration left before he’d become a free agent, so unless the Blue Jays plan to extend him to a longer-term contract, his trade value should be at maximum value today coming off a team-high OPS of .855 over 72 games in 2022.

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