If you were like me and you were holding out hope of an Edwin Encarnacion return to Toronto, you’re going to be disappointed. The former Blue Jay inked a $12 million deal that includes a club option for 2021 also worth $12 million with the Chicago White Sox. The dream is DEAD.
Honestly, that’s a wildly reasonable pricetag for Edwin, and it’s unfortunate the Jays couldn’t swing a deal. There was talk that both sides had a mutual interest in a reunion, but, after the Jays brought the more versatile Travis Shaw on board, it wasn’t all that surprising Edwin’s return didn’t happen. Had they signed Edwin, it would be to pretty much exclusively DH, which doesn’t work with a roster consisting of Vlad Jr. and Toescar Hernandez. If Edwin’s return was going to happen, he would have to be coming in as a first baseman.
Speaking of reunions, what about David Price? The last we heard was that the Jays were talking to the Red Sox about a possible deal, but we have no idea how far that went. From a Toronto perspective, taking on Price makes sense if you’re also getting a sweetener in return. He’s got $36 million annually left on his deal for three more years, so either Boston is paying a good chunk of that salary or they’re attaching a good player or prospect to the deal.
Apparently, the Red Sox are looking for prospects in return for David Price. So, they want somebody to take Price’s massive-ass contract off their hands and give them something in return for the favour. This is like you going to help your friend move furniture and you buy them a six-pack of beers afterwards.
GM who dabbled in Price talks says, "the Red Sox want prospects back for Price. I doubt they're getting any."
— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) December 24, 2019
I mean, try your heart out, Boston, but nobody is desperate enough to give up assets to acquire Price, who, at this stage, is probably a No. 2 or 3 on a good team. Even the Angels, who inexplicably gave a mega-deal to Anthony Rendon when they could have signed Ryu, Madison Bumgarner, and Dallas Keuchel for the same total cost of Redon’s deal, aren’t that desperate. They might be trotting out *checks notes* Dylan Bundy (???) on Opening Day, but they aren’t giving up prospects for David Price in the Year Of Our Lord 2020.
Anyways, it’s looking like these reunions aren’t happening. So, what now?
Amidst the excitement (and, well, shock) that the Jays ponied up the cash to sign Hyun-Jin Ryu, Keegan Matheson offered a sober second thought on the matter, suggesting it’s more about what they do after catching their big fish than anything else.
With their ‘needs’ taken care of, the #BlueJays’ aggression will now show in how they advance this. The outfield, bullpen, etc… improving in places where they don’t ‘need’ to, but can and should.
Development of young players will be part of this. So will 2020-21 offseason.
— Keegan Matheson (@KeeganMatheson) December 23, 2019
This is a really good point. To be honest, I was swept up in being thrilled that the Jays went out and signed one of the better arms on the open market. We haven’t seen a free agent signing of this size around these parts since AA went out and brought Russell Martin home, and we haven’t seen anything close to a big signing since the new front office stepped in.
But Keegan does have a good point here. The Jays had virtually zero payroll committed to their roster over the next few seasons, so signing Ryu (along with Tanner Roark and trading for Chase Anderson) was mostly about meeting a need. I mean, they could have done a much shittier job at addressing this need than taking a big risk with massive upside on Ryu, so it isn’t like Keegan is raining on the parade, or anything, but the test of just how ready the Jays are to take the next step will be seen in the final months of the off-season.
The pitching rotation could be set right now. The Jays could roll with Ryu, Anderson, Roark, Matt Shoemaker, and one of Trent Thornton or Ryan Borucki and be worlds better off than they were last year. Given the fact we watched Edwin Jackson make multiple starts last season, nobody will or should be complaining about the overhaul of the rotation from last year to this year. But if the Jays really are going for it, we’ll likely see other additions beyond the obvious ones.
There are names in the outfield, but are any of them good? Marcell Ozuna and Yasiel Puig would both be upgrades on what the Jays have now. But will they do it? Signing one of those two would be a clear signal the Jays are ready to really take a big step forward. If they’re going into 2020 with Derek Fisher/Teoscar Hernandez, Lourdes Gurriel, and Randal Grichuk as the outfielders, next year is probably more of an assessment year than a competition year. Signing Ozuna, a guy who’s good in a position that isn’t a glaring need, would be an even louder statement than signing Ryu.
It doesn’t have to happen, it’ll just tell us where the front office is at. Even if the Jays don’t sign anybody else, the off-season has still been a success at this point. It’ll just be interesting to see if they really are ready to dive in headfirst or not.