Blue Jays: Two players from last year’s team that will be missed and two that won’t

Chicago Cubs v Toronto Blue Jays
Chicago Cubs v Toronto Blue Jays / Cole Burston/GettyImages

The Toronto Blue Jays have been busy over the past several months, making significant changes to a roster that has some big aspirations for 2023.

Not all the subtractions to the team are equal though. Some were replaced by a capable fill-in or even upgraded, while others will leave a void that will be palpable.

Here are two players from last year’s team that will be missed and two others who won’t be.

Will be missed - Ross Stripling, SP

When Ross Stripling was traded for during the bizarre, lockout-shortened 2020 season, it was not immediately clear what his role would be.

He had been both a starter and reliever during his time with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and adding another reliable arm seemed useful if nothing else.

Stripling would, over the next two seasons, prove himself to be an extremely valuable member of the pitching staff, able to join the rotation at a moment’s notice, or to be a multiple-innings option out of the bullpen.

Often, he was asked to start games, 43 of them in total of the past two years, but “Strip” really found his grove in 2022, making 24 starts and going 10-4 with a 3.01 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP. He signed a two-year, $25M contract with the San Francisco Giants where he’ll finally be part of a team’s Opening Day rotation.

There’s no way Toronto’s staff is as steady without the versatile veteran. As hard as it was to hear news of his signing elsewhere, the fact that he’s getting the chance he’s long deserved will bring solace to some.

Will be missed - Gabriel Moreno, C  

There was a question Jays fans had been asking each other over the last year-plus. Which one of the catchers will they move?

With Alejandro Kirk amid a breakout season, Danny Jansen showing off a power stroke not yet seen, and Gabriel Moreno looking as advertised during his month-long cameo mid-season, this was a good problem to have, and one not going away until a trigger was pulled.

A couple of days before Christmas, a deal was struck sending Moreno and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for ascending outfielder Daulton Varsho.

It feels like a trade that should truly benefit both teams, and as much as the Blue Jays were dealing from a position of strength, they must know that it could very well come at the cost of seeing Moreno develop into a star in the desert.

Won’t be missed - Teoscar Hernández, OF

As popular a player as Teoscar Hernández was, both in the clubhouse and amongst the fanbase, the team going in another direction in the outfield seemed inevitable.

His path to balls in play and lack of hustle infuriated fans and the coaching staff alike and although Hernández has big power, that’s become his main attribute, something the Jays already have in abundance.

Furthermore, the player who will be primarily replacing Hernández in the field and the lineup, Daulton Varsho, is arguably more talented in the areas “Mr. Seeds” excels at, power hitting and speed, while also bringing a different look as a left-handed batter and being known as an elite defender. Varsho out-homered Hernández last year, 27 to 25, and he stands to be one of the players to benefit most from the anti-shifting rules, not to mention the new, shorter dimension Rogers Centre will feature in 2023.

Won’t be missed - Raimel Tapia, OF

Raimel Tapia arrived on the scene just before the start of last season and quickly became a fan favorite with his aggressive style at the plate, speedy athleticism, and flowing deadlocks.

While Tapia had a decent season as a fourth outfielder, he was often pressed into playing everyday for stretches and he isn’t a dynamic defensive player, doesn’t hit for power, and rarely walks.

Replacing Tapia with a combination of Varsho and Kevin Kiermaier is a win all the way around. Both of those players are above-average runners, can really attack the baseball defensively, with a greater ability to drive the ball.

Tapia signed a minor-league contract with the Boston Red Sox, and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if he made the team and made an impact on that team, especially considering his fondness for Fenway Park. It may be the best opportunity out there for him.

This is Vladimir Guerrero Jr.'s path to success in 2023. dark. Next