It’s been a perplexing and often frustrating offseason for the Toronto Blue Jays. It was widely reported that they were in the running for the services of Shohei Ohtani right up until the hours before he announced his pact with the L.A. Dodgers, although it's impossible to determine the validity of such information.
They were considered dark horses at best to land Yoshinobu Yamamoto, and to nobody’s surprise, he joined Ohtani in Los Angeles. Most fans thought with the organization’s supposed willingness to spend exorbitantly, several big signings were to come. That hasn’t happened, and the deals the team has made are hardly enough to move the needle much.
Bringing Kevin Kiermaier back into the fold and adding Isiah Kiner-Falefa will be investments in the club’s defense that will again be among MLB’s best. However, neither player is known for their hitting prowess, and that’s still very much considered to be the primary need of this squad.
Most fans assumed that the imminent announcements of Cody Bellinger and Matt Chapman were inevitable, at least until Ross Atkins’ most recent press conference. He spent most of his time beaming about the players already on the roster and hinted at minimal additions, likely in the outfield/designated hitter category.
Recently, reports had the Jays kicking the tires on Joc Pederson, who would be a worthwhile and sensible addition if they could consummate a deal. Pederson is a lefty masher, the owner of a robust career .834 OPS against right-handers, and a pivotal member of the 2021 World Series-winning Atlanta Braves.
Viewing Pederson as a consolation prize isn’t fair, and he’d fill a vital role with Brandon Belt possibly retiring and would address a lack of left-handed hitting bats on the roster. He’s primarily a DH at this point in his career, and that’s precisely what the Blue Jays need.
The slow pace of this market and the warts on the pieces still available, like Rhys Hoskins, Jorge Soler, J.D. Martinez, and Tommy Pham, prove that Toronto isn’t the only team with hesitations about investing in this free agency class. With a handful of other teams competing for the services of similar players, it’s time for Atkins to decide and invest while there’s still valuable talent on the board.