As the General Manager Meetings march on in Scottsdale, Arizona, the rumors are flying. The Toronto Blue Jays should be one of the more active clubs this offseason as they look to address their offense. However, Ross Atkins typically isn't known to do what the public believes he should.
Early on, many names are being thrown around the rumor mill and the Blue Jays are tied to most. Cody Bellinger, a top-shelf outfielder who the Jays targeted last offseason, is expected to once again be pursued by the club. Joc Pederson is said to be "the back-up plan" if Bellinger doesn't come to Toronto. Elsewhere, a handful of different corner infield options are being floated, as well as a pursuit of center fielder Michael A. Taylor.
Let's dive in to the rumor mill and see who the Blue Jays are eyeing.
Free agent frenzy
Shi Davidi of Sportsnet reported on Tuesday that the Blue Jays recently met with the representatives of corner infielder Jeimer Candelario. The 29-year-old is coming off of a strong season in which he appeared in 140 games split between the Nationals and Cubs. In that time, he hit 22 home runs and drove in 70; posting an .807 OPS and 119 OPS+ along the way.
What makes Candelario interesting is his positional versatility. The eight-year veteran can play both third and first base and would be able to double as a Matt Chapman replacement or a fill-in at first when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. lines up as the designated hitter or takes a day off.
Speaking of Chapman
Per MLB insider Jon Heyman, resigning Matt Chapman is "a priority" for the Blue Jays. The interest in the 30-year-old is sure to be widespread across the league, but the Jays remain connected to the slick-fielding third baseman. Fresh off of winning his fourth career Gold Glove, Chapman also had 39 doubles, 17 home runs and a 108 OPS+ in 140 games this past season.
As of right now, the options at third are pretty bare for the Jays. The club could either re-sign Chapman, give the reins over to unproven rookies like Addison Barger and/or Orelvis Martinez, or try for a lottery ticket like Candelario. We shall see.
Jorge Soler can be one of the most fearsome sluggers in baseball when he's on. The 31-year-old is coming off of a year in which he hit 36 home runs in 137 games with the Marlins, and is exactly what the Jays need for their offensive woes.
Per MLB insider Mike Rodriguez, the Blue Jays are interested in signing Soler this offseason.
What makes Soler especially enticing is the thump his bat brings paired with what should be a relatively "small" contract compared to the one that someone like Bellinger might land. A three-year pact around $60M is perfectly reasonable and is most definitely one the Blue Jays could match if needed. He would likely be the team's designated hitter on most days, but can play either outfield corner and hits baseballs farther than anyone else in the league, what's not to like?
On Tuesday, Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith and Davidi spoke to Atkins, who didn't even try to hide his interest in free agent first baseman Joey Votto. Votto, 40, is coming off of a historic 17-year stretch on the Reds and is likely Hall of Fame-bound in the near future.
Last year, the former NL MVP made it into just 65 games, hitting 14 home runs and posting an OPS+ of 99. At this point in his career, he isn't likely to warrant an everyday role in the lineup, but he'd be a seamless transition away from Brandon Belt in 2024. The Canada native is likeliest to either re-sign in Cincinnati or come home to Toronto for a year before hanging it up.
The trade market
In the same piece as the one about Votto, Davidi mentions that the Blue Jays are interested in Mariners third baseman Eugenio Suárez. The 32-year-old is entering the final year of his seven-year contract he signed back in 2018 and has a ton of pop in his bat.
This past season, the former All-Star played all 162 games for the Mariners and hit 22 home runs with 96 RBI. Unfortunately, he also led the American League with 214 strikeouts. Notably, he has led the league in Ks three times in 10 years. Should the Jays elect to aggressively pursue Suárez, they would need to do so with the understanding that he'll hit a lot of home runs, but he'll also provide many, many frustrating at-bats.