Good lord, it’s finally almost over. Either the Houston Astros or the Washington Nationals will win game seven of the World Series tonight and we can get into the real stuff that actually matters — Transaction Season.
I wrote earlier about all the non-Gerrit Cole pitchers on the free-agent market we can build ourselves up to be disappointed about when they end up signing elsewhere, so now let’s take a look elsewhere around the diamond for places the Blue Jays can make upgrades. Hurrrr durrrr they suck buddy they need to upgrade everywhere idiot! Ha haaa!! Got em!
Catcher: The Jays used Danny Jansen and Luke Maile as a tandem for most of the season before Maile got hurt and Reese McGuire got called up. Jansen struggled at the plate, but he was strong defensively, earning himself contention for the American League Gold Glove for catchers. McGuire was excellent in his short showing while Maile was hurt, producing better offensive numbers in the Majors than he did in Triple-A.
Given the depth Toronto has behind the plate, it’s hard to imagine they add another catcher this off-season.
First base/designated hitter: I think this is a pretty obvious place to make an upgrade in some capacity. I’m not sure it makes sense for Toronto to go out and sign a full-time DH given that both Vlad Jr. and Teoscar Hernandez figure to see a decent amount of time off the field, but adding a big, veteran power bat in the middle of the lineup is important for this young group.
That could mean bringing back Justin Smoak on a cheap, short-term deal, though he didn’t have a great year at the plate last season. It could also just mean operating with internal options, like teaching Hernandez how to play first base, rotating the DH slot, and giving Rowdy Tellez another extended look. It could also mean making a stab in free agency. I doubt it would be a huge name like J.D. Martinez or Jose Abreu, but given how the market has shifted in recent years, it won’t break the bank to add a big, veteran bat.
You all know what I’m getting at. Just fucking bring Edwin home, goddamit.
Infield: As it stands right now, it looks the 2020 infield is going to see Vlad Jr. at third base, Bo Bichette at short, and Cavan Biggio at second. Brandon Drury will very likely be back as the team’s jack-of-all-trades while Richard Urena presents another Triple-A option to be a versatile bench player. Given Toronto’s three core young players all being infielders, I doubt the organization goes out and makes an addition at any of these three positions.
Outfield: As I already pointed out, the outfield is a goddamn swamp. Randal Grichuk was given a long-term deal, so, for better or worse, he’s going to be occupying one of these three spots next year and Lourdes Gurriel had a breakout season in left field, so you have to figure he’ll be back out there again. Then there’s Derek Fisher, who the team seems to really, really believe in, Anthony Alford, who the team seems to really, really not believe in, and other names like Jonathan Davis and Billy McKinney who, uh, also exist. Teoscar Hernandez has been a disaster in the field and always will be, so if he remains a member of the Blue Jays, I would bet it’s at first base or DH.
So we’re looking at an outfield that will almost certainly involve Gurriel, Grichuk, and Fisher. Apparently Grichuk doesn’t like playing centre field, which kind of sucks because his bat is more like a wiffle ball bat and isn’t really good enough to translate to the corners. That also puts a wrench in giving Fisher, who, again, they really seem to like for some reason, the consistent playing time he never got in Houston.
Though a Nick Castellanos or Marcell Ozuna addition would be cool, I’m not sure it makes sense right now. If the Jays do make an addition in the outfield, it would ideally be for a centre fielder with a good glove. Otherwise, it might just be more worthwhile to see what guys like Alford and Fisher really have before investing long-term in a free agent.
Pitching: So when you put it all together, the Jays really should focus their efforts this off-season on pitching. Adding veteran starting pitching is a must and finding bargain bullpen arms at the end of free agency is also inevitable. There are places elsewhere on the roster that could use an upgrade, but nothing stands out quite like the absolute black hole that is the current pitching staff.
Looking up and down the free-agent market, this is also the ideal time to make additions to the pitching staff. There are plenty of quality options available, even beyond the big names like Gerrit Cole, Zack Wheeler, and Jake Odorizzi, both in terms of stable veteran options who can eat innings and buy-low options with upside. Otherwise, it’s best to look internally yet again to see what’s already here before making major investments around the rest of the diamond.