Blue Jays: Trying to keep up with the Joneses

May 1, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Matt Chapman (26) slides safe
May 1, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Matt Chapman (26) slides safe / Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

It's still early in the offseason, but it's never easy to watch other potential contenders getting better while still waiting for more roster movement from the Blue Jays.

That's more or less where we're at now, even if it's far from time to panic. The Blue Jays have started to tweak the roster and even did so in a meaningful way by trading Teoscar Hernandez to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for an elite reliever in Erik Swanson, and a talented pitching prospect named Adam Macko. Swanson will make a big difference for a Blue Jays team that needed another high-end reliever, but most fans are still waiting for Hernandez's replacement to be found.

There are still all kinds of options on the free agent and trade markets, and the offseason rush really hasn't begun yet for most of baseball. I expect we'll see a fair bit of movement once the winter meetings take place in early December, but so far it's been fairly quiet. That said, there are a handful of teams that have already moved to improve, and they're among the projected American League contenders for 2023.

For example, the defending World Series champions decided they needed an upgrade at first base over long-time fan favourite Yuli Gurriel, and they found one by signing Jose Abreu to take over duties at the cold corner. As of this writing the details of Abreu's contract have not been released, but I can't imagine they overpaid to the extreme, and this move should make the Astros' lineup even deeper and more dangerous.

For all intents and purposes, the Astros are setting the bar for the rest of the American League with what they do this offseason, and they're already the defending champions with a loaded lineup and pitching staff. The fact that they weren't satisfied to run it back shows what it's going to take to become the powerhouse of the AL, which is the ultimate goal for the Blue Jays and several other teams.

As much as it feels like the Astros are miles ahead of the competition, the Blue Jays really do have an opportunity to close the gap with a couple of significant moves. They're likely never going to have the same depth as the Astros do in their rotation, but adding another high-end arm to the trio of Alek Manoah, Kevin Gausman, and Jose Berrios (assuming he bounces back) could at least give them a fair matchup in a postseason series. As for the lineup, there's plenty of firepower in Toronto as well, but bringing in another key contributor or two would really even the score, at least on paper.

The Blue Jays and the Astros won't be the only two teams looking to represent the AL in the World Series next year, and at some point the competition for free agents and players available on the trade market is really going to heat up. Abreu was never going to be a fit for the Blue Jays, but even at that, I still have to tip my cap to the Astros and admit that there's no question that they're ahead of the pack at the moment. Your move, Mr. Atkins.