Option Two: Looking at external options in free agency
If we take a look at what’s available in the upcoming free agent class for 2023-24, there are some intriguing, yet risky options available to choose from. Here, we take a look at some of the top free agents available in the position.
Elvis Andrus has been a steady producer over his 15-year MLB career and was just coming off a 17-homer, 58-RBI season in 2022. However, he is also turning 35 this offseason, along with the fact that he just started playing some second base this past season after playing shortstop for his entire career, so there could be some risk to it despite being a possible safe pickup.
Jorge Polanco currently has a club option, but if the Minnesota Twins decide to buy him out, he would definitely be an interesting pickup, as he is only two years removed from his 33 HR, 98 RBI career season in 2021 and would provide plenty of pop in the Jays’ lineup.
For veteran Kolten Wong, he actually drew some interest by the Jays during the 2020-21 offseason, but nothing came to fruition in the end. The Jays can choose to pursue that route once again, as based on his track record, he would be able to bring his Gold Glove defence along with some adequate offence to the ballclub. However, he is coming off a somewhat down season in 2023 both offensively and defensively while serving part-time duties with the Seattle Mariners and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Renowned for his super versatility in playing almost all the positions in the field other than catcher and pitcher, Kiké Hernández would certainly be an attractive option for the Jays. He will be only 32 heading into free agency and appears to still have some good years left in his legs. At the same time, he is also more than capable with the bat as well as holding his own defensively too. More importantly, he has an impressive lifetime postseason portfolio that includes a .274 average, .893 OPS, with 13 home runs and 29 RBI in 72 games played, which could be key when the Jays make the playoffs next time around.
Finally, there’s former All-Star and Gold Glover Javier Báez. For someone that is capable of hitting in the .270-.280 range, along with providing close to 30 homers and 90 RBI year in and year out, Báez would be a premium option to consider compared to the rest of the previous ones mentioned. However, he is coming off two sub-par seasons with the Detroit Tigers, along with having his work ethic being questioned at times during his tenure with the ballclub. But perhaps a change of scenery would be just enough to revitalize Báez, just like what happened for Merrifield when he came over to the Jays.
The Jays could also look into the trade route, but with plenty of solid options available both in free agency and what they already have internally (see below), it would be wise that they save their assets in that regard and go with what is already accessible for them. So what the Jays just need to determine now is if they indeed intend to pursue free agency for the solution at second base, they will need to ensure the player they bring is a definite upgrade of what they already have. Otherwise, it may not be worth it.
Verdict: Maybe, at the right price