Regardless of how one feels about the (lack of) moves the Blue Jays have made this offseason, this is a team that is already stacked with talent.
Just about two months ago, the club lost each of Ross Stripling, Jackie Bradley Jr., Raimel Tapia and Bradley Zimmer to free agency. Out of that quartet, only Stripling's absence from the rotation will be sorely missed (although the Jays are still interested in bringing him back).
At this time next year, a much more significant group of players will be coming off the books. This includes reliever Anthony Bass, starter Hyun Jin Ryu, outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and third baseman Matt Chapman.
Note: Yimi Garcia has a $5M team option for next season while Whit Merrifield has an $18M mutual option but they are not going to be included in this list.
Bass, 35, is a failed starter-turned-dominant reliever. After failing to find any sustained success with the Padres, Astros or Rangers early in his career, he began to turn things around with the Cubs in 2018 and hasn't looked back since.
Last year, Bass was dealt from the Marlins (back) to Toronto alongside Zach Pop in exchange for infield prospect Jordan Groshans. On the season, splitting time between the Marlins and Jays, Bass had a sparkling 1.54 ERA in 73 appearances, posting an ERA+ of 263 as well, a number that is absolutely ludicrous in today's game.
The right-hander is entering his third and final year of the three-year, $7M contract he signed a few years back and he will earn just $3M in 2023. His recent performances suggest that he will demand much, much more once he officially hits free agency this time next year.
Then there's Matt Chapman, arguably the best defensive third baseman of this generation.
2022 was his first year with the Jays and while the .229 batting average may look scary to some, he still managed to club 27 home runs and drive in 76, good for an OPS+ of 115 on the season.
He, like Bass, is nearing the end of a contract extension but Chapman's is for far more money.
In 2023, the slick-fielding third baseman is set to earn $12.5M, what some may consider to be a steal for someone of his talents, but his contract was to buy out the last two years of arbitration, not one landed on the free agent market. Once he reaches the free agency pool, look for his paychecks to get a whole lot bigger.
Then there's Gurriel, who initially was not expected to hit free agency until the conclusion of the 2024 season. Thanks to a clause in his contract that was not disclosed until around this time last year, Gurriel is now going to be a free agent at the end of 2023.
LGJ has been an offensive powerhouse since his joining the Jays back in 2018, posting a combined 117 OPS+ and 8.0 bWAR along the way. He is a consistent home run threat who learned left field on the fly in 2019 and hasn't looked back since. His ability to also line up at first base adds some value to his profile as well. Of all of the upcoming free agents, he likely stands the best chance to be brought back.
One of the more quietly dominant pitchers in the game when he's healthy, Hyun Jin Ryu missed nearly all of 2022 with injuries. That unfortunately has been the name of the game for Ryu since he broke into the league in 2013.
In nine years, the Korean southpaw has made 30 or more starts just two times while making under 25 five times. Today's game relies so heavily on a pitcher's durability, so his lack of sustained health is a bit concerning.
Nonetheless, he is slated to miss the vast majority, if not the entirety of the 2023 campaign and it will be a telling one when trying to find exactly where his value currently lies. The unfortunate truth is that Ryu's tenure in a Jays uniform has likely already come to an unceremonious end.
Which one(s), if any, do you think the Jays should aim to bring back?