Blue Jays: Reviewing the offseason and previewing the club's new identity
Raimel Tapia's flyball hadn't even landed in Julio Rodríguez's glove yet. The season wasn't even officially over yet. But in reality it was. Probably a lot earlier than anyone had even realized. The 2022 Toronto Blue Jays finished 92-70, that's a great season, especially when you factor in the division they play in, it just never felt like it.
The Blue Jays were statistically a top 3 offense in 2022. They were second in wRC+, and third in OBP and OPS, but again, it just never really felt like it.
One could argue they were extremely feast or famine, one day putting up 28 runs and then going an entire week barely scratching across three.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had a really good statistical season, it just wasn't anywhere near 2021 Vladdy.
Bo Bichette was a replacement level player until he turned into Barry Bonds in September.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr., albeit dealing with a hamate injury, saw his power completely evaporate in 2022, as he managed just 5 longballs.
That's to say nothing about the pitching side either, with José Berríos taking you on what could only be described as the worst rollercoaster ride of your life. I guess what I'm trying to say is that the 2022 Toronto Blue Jays were a lot of things but then again nothing really at all. The identity of last year's team can best be described as "consistently inconsistent". So what did they do about it?
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
The Jays completely remade their outfield look for starters. Out went the bat-first guys like Teoscar and Lourdes, and in came defensive studs Daulton Varsho and Kevin Kiermaier. You can bet those moves were made with the knowledge of how the new outfield walls and dimensions would play, with them now being asymmetrical.
Chris Bassitt = Ross Stripling, with a bit more certainty when it comes to eating up innings. Belt gives them potentially the most potent left-handed bat of the three they acquired if he's able to stay healthy and recapture anywhere near his 2020/21 production. Erik Swanson and Chad Green present John Schneider with a couple more late inning options, with the latter being more of a second half addition as he continues to recover from Tommy John surgery. Macko is an interesting prospect, an electric arm with gaudy K/9 ratios in low and high A, he was the second piece along with Swanson in the Hernández trade.
Zach Thompson also came over in a trade with the Pirates for Chavez Young, he'll serve as starting pitching depth and will likely begin the year in the Bisons rotation.
The question now becomes how do all these pieces fit together, and what becomes of it? There's multiple different avenues the 2023 Blue Jays could take to establish their identity. They could very well continue to slug their way to success, with more added balance to the lineup and a top 3 of Springer-Bichette-Guerrero there's certainly a strong chance the Jays are once again a top 3 offence.
Or maybe Berríos reverts back to what he once was and becomes the best No. 4 starter in all of baseball while Yusei Kikuchi is somewhat serviceable and the Blue Jays run a stud rotation that shuts down opposing hitters night in, an night out.
The most likely scenario, however, would be for them to land somewhere in the middle. A top 5 offense, a top 10 rotation, and one of, if not the best fielding teams in all of baseball. You look around the horn and the only real defensive spot that may give you some concern is shortstop, but I'm not going to be betting against Bichette. That man looks like he's on a mission for 2023 and frankly, so does the rest of the Blue Jays roster.