Four tiers of lineup upgrades for the Blue Jays

Chicago White Sox v Toronto Blue Jays
Chicago White Sox v Toronto Blue Jays / Vaughn Ridley/GettyImages
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Tier 4

The first tier is a compilation of players that could be acquired at a relatively small cost. These players are primarily reclamation projects. Guys with talent and a resume to their name but haven’t produced at that level in the recent past. 

Joey Votto

To start, this would be fun. The man from Etobicoke would look to step directly into the role that Brandon Belt is expected to leave behind. That being the veteran on-base machine who will primarily DH against righties, occasionally play first, and could swat at least 15 homers if healthy for the better part of 130 games.

Votto is coming off of a season in which he returned from a major surgery to repair his torn rotator cuff. Entering his age-40 season, it’s a fair take to assume that his days of middle-of-the-order production are behind him. However, the former MVP is a season removed from being in the 89th percentile in walk percentage and the 78th percentile in barrel percentage. This frequency of walks and hard contact would be a welcome addition to the Jays lineup, with his left-handedness being a bonus. 

Signing Votto would come with some risk, primarily lying in the unknown of what exactly his production would look like given his age. With an OPS+ of 99 through 65 games last year, he was about a league average hitter as a 39-year-old off a major surgery. At a cheap price, Votto could be worth taking a flyer on, at the dispense of a disappointed fan base that was expecting a bigger name at the DH spot.

Rhys Hoskins

A situation similar to Votto, though Hoskins would be a more exciting add given multiple factors. A younger player, Hoksins would be entering his age-31 season in 2024, is a likely candidate to be motivated on a one-year prove it deal after being out all of last season while recovering from a torn ACL, and has a more recent track record of being a legit, middle of the order threat. 

When healthy, Hoskins is an on-base and barrel machine being in at least the 78th percentile in walk percentage, chase percentage, barrel percentage, and sweet spot percentage. A guy who’s consistently getting on base and hitting the ball hard, motivated to produce, and fills the DH/1B role would be a great add to this Blue Jays lineup.

The risk, similar to Votto, is the unknown. Hoskins just missed an entire season, in addition to having the reputation of a below-average fielder. However, also similar to Votto, Hoskins would be worth the risk on a one year deal for a lineup looking for power. Hoskins would likely make more next year than Votto, but for a single season, that’s unlikely to matter to a front office on the hot seat.

Giovanny Urshela

The last reclamation project of this tier is former Blue Jay Gio Urshela. Urshela, a contact-first, versatile infielder, has taken massive strides in his career since his 2018 appearance in Toronto. The former Yankee and Angel is coming off a season which was cut short by a fractured pelvis in June. Now having recovered, he would be a great low cost addition to a team needing infield help, fitting up the Blue Jays alley quite nicely. 

A flyer on Urshela would see him taking over third base duties from Matt Chapman. Urshela would provide average defence with the ability to cover shortstop and second as well, and would do well in a run producing spot in the order, as he excels at putting bat on ball. Since the start of his Yankees tenure, the period of time that turned Urshela’s career around, Urshela has batted .291 while consistently getting on base