2. External options in free agency
The upcoming free agent pool could be just right for those looking for a designated hitter that could provide some thump to their lineup. The crown jewel of them all of course is Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani. For those that are worried about his health status after his recent elbow surgery, it is expected that he will be back as a hitter by Opening Day in 2024, and as a pitcher in 2025. For the Blue Jays, their immediate need is more on the hitting than pitching side anyway. Therefore, they could afford to not have the pitching version of Ohtani for a year while reaping the benefits of his offensive output. The only major hurdle would be how much it would cost to sign the former AL MVP and three-time All-Star, since he is bound to have many teams competing for his services this offseason.
If Ohtani proves to be too expensive, there is a great fallback option in J.D. Martinez. Martinez has been one of the more consistent and productive hitters in all of baseball over the past decade. He always manages to hit for a strong average while topping the 30 home run and 100 RBI marks as well. Despite a slightly down season in 2022, he quickly bounced back with the Dodgers in 2023 with a .271 average, .893 OPS, with 33 home runs and 103 RBI in 113 games played. Although he may be 36 entering the upcoming season, he doesn’t appear to be slowing down just yet and looks to follow in line with the success both David Ortiz and Nelson Cruz had even when approaching the age of 40. On top of it all, he has also won it all back in 2018 with the Boston Red Sox, so he could definitely bring that winning mentality and experience to the Jays.
Finally, another potential free agent of interest would be Jorge Soler. Soler was actually one of the power bats we suggested earlier this season that the Jays could have pursued in upgrading their offence. Well he will now be available as a free agent in the upcoming days for the Jays to take a shot at. Soler had a solid 2023 campaign in which he hit .250 with an .853 OPS, along with 77 runs scored, 36 home runs and 75 RBI in leading the Miami Marlins to their first postseason berth since 2020. With the ability to also play in the outfield if needed, the added versatility along with his potent bat could be exactly what the Jays need for 2024.
There’s definitely no need to consider trading for a designated hitter since there are plenty of options available for the Jays to choose from in free agency or within their organization (see below), so it isn’t worth sacrificing some assets to obtain one.