The Blue Jays got Kevin Kiermaier. Now what's next?

Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays - Game One
Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays - Game One / Mark Blinch/GettyImages

After weeks of near-misses, close calls, and could haves, the Toronto Blue Jays finally landed a free-agent target on Saturday.

Kevin Kiermaier doesn’t have the high profile of free agents like Aaron Judge or Xander Bogaerts, but he still does bring something to the Blue Jays. He is an elite center fielder, leading the league in defensive runs saved (DRS) over the last four seasons. He’s second among center fielders in outs above average (OAA) during that span.

Kiermaier has been a traditional Blue Jays nemesis over a career spent entirely with the Tampa Bay Rays. He’s a career .287 hitter at the Rogers Centre. He has more hits against the Blue Jays than he does any other opponent. Blue Jays fans will long remember when he picked up the game plan that fell out of the pocket of Alejandro Kirk and refused to return it.

He gives the Blue Jays a dependable outfielder than can take over from George Springer in centrer and allow Springer to spend more time playing a corner outfield position. He’s a solid pickup, but the Blue Jays are far from done.

General Manager Ross Atkins made it clear during the recently-concluded Winter Meetings that the team’s priority for the rest of the offseason is to upgrade their pitching staff. The Blue Jays have yet to find a replacement for Ross Stripling, who is still a free agent after posting a 2.69 ERA over his last 12 starts in 2022, 12th in the American League over that span. The starting pitching rotation now consists of Alek Manoah, Kevin Gausman, and a bunch of question marks.

Was 2022 just an aberration for José Berríos? Can Yusei Kikuchi and Mitch White be dependable starters? Or will Atkins be forced to bring in a high-priced replacement?

Left-hander Carlos Rodón is the top pitcher on the free agent market and is reportedly seeking a seven-year deal that would bring him up to his age 36 season. Chris Bassitt, who won 15 games for the Mets last season, is also a potential target for the Blue Jays. They won’t come cheap, not in a market that has already seen Jacob deGrom sign for $37 million per season and Justin Verlander for $43 million. More middle-of-the-rotation type pitchers such as Noah Syndergaard and Nathan Eovaldi are also options for Atkins to add to the Blue Jays' 2023 staff.

The Blue Jays are also not likely to be done seeking another outfielder to help replace Teoscar Hernández's production. Michael Conforto sat out the 2022 season with a shoulder injury but, when healthy, is a power bat from the left side the Blue Jays need. Michael Brantley, who also has injury concerns, is also still available and has flirted with joining the Blue Jays before.

There are roughly 109 days until Opening Day 2023 and just as many questions for the Blue Jays to solve until then. They got one free agent they wanted in Kiermaier, but that is just the start in a busy drive to spring training and the start of the season.

Next. 2023 is an important year for Cavan Biggio and his future. dark