The non-waiver deadline came and went on Friday and the only player the Jays decided to let go of was Yangervis Solarte who had a miserable finish to the season after a very hot start. Guys like Kevin Pillar, Joe Biagini, and Devon Travis who many assumed could be let go ended up sticking as they’re probably more likely to have value either to the team’s future or in a trade later on.
It’s going to be ugly next year. We know that already. The Jays are going to trudge through a couple of rebuild years as the Large Adult Sons work their way up the system and try to stick at the Major League Level.
Being a rebuilding roster, the Jays offer an interesting opportunity for many players floating around in purgatory as they look to rebuild their value. The Jays can offer playing time early on in the season as their top prospects like Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, and Anthony Alford work in the minors, then they can flip said players to contenders prior to the trade deadline. We’ve seen this in recent years with guys like Seunghwan Oh and Joe Smith and it continues to make sense from a Blue Jays perspective as the organization continues to build depth in the minors.
A bunch of interesting names have joined the free agent market who could fit on the Blue Jays in the short-term. Here’s who caught my eye….
- Shelby Miller: Miller was a really solid young pitcher. He was dealt from St. Louis to Atlanta for Jayson Heyward and then Arizona paid a massive price to bring him to the desert. That deal was a massive flop for the Diamondbacks as Miller would put up a 6.35 ERA over parts of four injury-riddled seasons. Miller is now 28 years old and just worked back from Tommy John surgery. He does have quite a bit of upside, though he hasn’t had a good season in the Majors since 2015. Still, the Jays starting rotation is incredibly thin and Miller would be worthwhile as a reclamation project. But would he want to try to rebuild his value in a hitter-friendly park?
- Brad Boxberger: Another Diamondback who was cut loose on Friday, Boxberger is a reliever who has seen success in the American League East. Boxberger, who turns 31 in May, posted a 4.39 ERA with Arizona last year, striking out a whopping 12 batters per nine while walking an even more whopping 5.4 batters per nine. He had some really good years in Tampa Bay and seems like a perfect sign-and-flip type reliever for the Jays. They did that last year with Seunghwan Oh, who had a poor 2017 season, and they ended up getting a decent haul in return for him.
- Mike Fiers: The only reason Mike Fiers is on the list is Oakland’s payroll. He had a damn good season last year and the A’s but the Moneyball Boys cut him loose because he was projected to command $9.7 million. Fiers posted a 3.56 ERA between Detroit and Oakland. He could work in a similar way he did last year in which he joined a shitty Tigers team and got flipped to a contender. That said, after his strong year, Fiers could easily command more than a one-year deal, which wouldn’t work quite as well for the Jays as a rental flip-to-a-contender option.
- Billy Hamilton: Once an incredibly highly-touted prospected due to his speed, Billy Hamilton hasn’t been able to hack it at the Major League level because, as they say, you can’t steal first base. Hamilton will steal bases when he gets on, but he doesn’t get on very often, as he he’s posted an OBP north of .300 just once in five full seasons. I only mention him because the Jays have a thin outfield. I really don’t see Hamilton as an upgrade over Kevin Pillar at this point.
- Avisail Garcia: Probably a better outfield option for the Jays is Avisail Garcia. He’s a corner outfielder with a huge bat, though he has absolutely zero command of the strike zone. Garcia was an All-Star in 2017, smacking 18 bombs and posting an .880 OPS, but his strikeout totals are massive. Would he be an upgrade over, say, Teoscar Hernandez who is a similar player?
- Jonathan Schoop: After an All-Star, breakout season in 2017, Schoop was dealt to the Brewers for the playoff run and he completely fell off the grid. Schoop had an OPS of .841 in 2017 and managed to get some MVP votes, he regressed back a little in 2018, ended up in Milwaukee, and was relegated to their bench when the playoffs rolled around. Still, he’s the perfect example of a possible rebound candidate. The Jays already have a loaded and unpredictable infield with Lourdes Gurriel projecting to start at short, Bo Bichette possibly joining the team mid-season, Troy Tulowitzki still on payroll, and the enigmatic Devon Travis in the mix along with Brandon Drury.
- Blake Parker: One of the more surprising names on this list, Blake Parker got cut loose by the Angels after posting a 2.90 ERA in two seasons out of the ‘pen. The 33-year-old righty struck out 10.5 batters per nine over the past two seasons and definitely looks like a potential solid addition to the bullpen.