What could one final "big move" look like for the Blue Jays this offseason?

Chicago Cubs v Toronto Blue Jays
Chicago Cubs v Toronto Blue Jays / Mark Blinch/GettyImages

Camp is in session, and the Blue Jays are set to play their first game of the spring on Saturday. Despite this increase in baseball activity and players settling into their roles for the approaching regular season, there are still plenty of star players without contracts. 

Familiar face Matt Chapman is amongst them, along with a former MVP coming off an excellent season in Cody Bellinger. While Blue Jays players and a portion of fans would welcome Chappy back with open arms, the current state of Blue Jays infielders remains a roadblock to that reunion. 

There are twelve players on the 40-man roster in line to occupy the infield in 2024, whether that’s in Toronto or Buffalo. That’s not counting guys like Eduardo Escobar, Daniel Vogelbach or Damiano Palmegiani, each of whom are not on the 40-man but could factor into the infield mix at some point in 2024. This saturation of infielders makes a re-signing of Chapman more and more unlikely.

Bellinger, on the other hand, satisfies multiple areas of need on this current roster. A left-handed power bat with great defensive skills in the outfield would slide smoothly into this roster that is surprisingly thin on outfield depth and would benefit from a lefty in the upper parts of the lineup.

The former MVP is coming off a seemingly successful “prove-it” deal with the Chicago Cubs, producing a 134 wRC+ over 130 games and coming in tenth in NL MVP voting. Bellinger provided above average defence at both center field and first base, while also mixing in 26 home runs to pair with his 20 stolen bases. Clearly a dynamic threat, why is Bellinger still available?

In addition to likely wanting a large contract in both term and AAV, Bellinger’s projections don’t lend him any favours. A look at his peripherals show he may have benefited from luck in 2023. Bellinger was rather pedestrian in the areas of average exit velocity, barrel percentage, and xwOBA. These poor contact indicators contribute to rather subpar projections for this upcoming season. ZiPS projects a 106 wRC+ from Bellinger, a far cry from last years production and a troubling number for a guy looking for a massive payday.

Bellinger is sure to latch on with someone soon. If the price is right, the Blue Jays would be well suited to seize this opportunity in an effort to fortify their lineup. Reported as still having “money to spend” by Ken Rosenthal, the Jays might be a sleeper for one of the remaining Boras clients still on the market. 

The former MVP is the best fit. He would slot into a lineup that would heavily benefit from a skillset like his, as well as fit well in an outfield that would now have an increased ability to manage the workload of Kevin Kiermaier and George Springer, given the increased depth.

The projections are worth keeping note of, as Bellinger could very well have a drop off in terms of production. However, should Bellingers price drop to a level the Blue Jays are comfortable with, even considering the risk, the reward of having someone with Bellinger’s level of talent would be a big move for the club.