When the Toronto Blue Jays revamped their 2023 roster during the past offseason, their focus was set on improving the team’s defence, along with adding left-handed bats to the everyday lineup. In doing so, they chose to sacrifice some of their potent offence in return. In the end, their defence and production from the left side of the plate indeed improved in 2023. However, the reduction in potent bats from the lineup has certainly come back to bite them, in particular during the 2023 playoffs. The Jays scored a grand total of one run in two games against the Minnesota Twins, as their postseason ended as quickly as it started.
It is now quite obvious that the Jays lacked a fearsome power hitter in their lineup that could have been a huge difference maker for the ballclub. When we think of potent bats, the ones that come to mind include José Bautista, Edwin Encarnación, Josh Donaldson, or going back even further, Vernon Wells, Carlos Delgado, and Joe Carter. Those were players that could produce in the clutch, as well as being able to single-handedly change a game around with their bat. As a result, the Jays should make searching for the much-needed power bat one of their main focus this offseason in free agency.
In terms of the attractive options available, Cody Bellinger definitely headlines that list. After all, Bellinger revitalized his career this past season with the Chicago Cubs with an outstanding year. In 2023, he batted .307 with an .881 OPS, along with 95 runs scored, 29 doubles, 26 home runs, 97 RBI and 20 stolen bases, while setting career-highs in batting average and stolen bases in the process. More importantly, with center fielder Kevin Kiermaier heading towards free agency as well, Bellinger could be a viable, yet potentially expensive, outfield replacement option for the Jays.
Other power-hitting options include J.D. Martinez and old friend Teoscar Hernández. After a down season in 2022, Martinez rebounded in 2023 with a 33-homer, 103-RBI season with the Dodgers, helping the team to their first place finish in the NL West division. The only caveat is the fact that he has been mainly deployed as a designated hitter for the past few seasons and has been used sparingly in the outfield during that time, hence reducing his positional flexibility.
For Hernández, wouldn’t it be great to bring him home for a reunion? In 2023 with the Mariners, he compiled a .258 batting average with a .741 OPS, along with 70 runs scored, 26 home runs and 93 RBI. More significantly, he produced big time with runners in scoring position, as he hit .300 with five home runs and 67 RBI in such situations, something the Jays could really use going forward.
Finally, if he decides to opt-out and become available in free agency, Jorge Soler of the Miami Marlins would be a solid option for sure. He led the Marlins this year right into the playoffs with a 36-homer, 75-RBI season while mainly batting at the top part of their lineup. Of course, there’s also the ultimate top option in Shohei Ohtani, but he is probably beyond what the Jays can afford for the upcoming offseason. However, if they can miraculously somehow do the impossible and sign Ohtani, we are definitely here for it.
Overall, as well-rounded the Jays’ roster may seem to be, it definitely lacks that one fearsome power element that could put them over the top. As a result, they should seek out that solution in the upcoming months in free agency to help make the team a strong and competitive one once again for 2024.