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Blue Jays Nation Roundtable: What’s going to happen this off-season?

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Photo credit:© Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Tyson Shushkewich
8 months ago
The Toronto Blue Jays were once again unable to secure a win in the postseason, a feat that has eluded the franchise since 2016 when the club made back-to-back ALCS appearances prior to a full-scale rebuild under general manager Ross Atkins and executive Mark Shapiro.
With the playoffs now in the rearview mirror and the offseason swinging into focus for the Blue Jays, there is lots to discuss on a few different fronts. Multiple key players are heading to free agency, two players have team options and potential coaching changes may be on the horizon (except for Schneider, whose job is safe at the moment). With this in mind, I headed into the public spaces and asked different people the following questions:
With the Blue Jays eliminated from the playoffs in the Wild Card once again, what is at least one prediction you have for the organization this off-season?

Here are their stories:

This off-season is going to be an interesting one. Where Rogers as an ownership group is on this front office is tough to say. They have made the playoffs in 4 of the 8 years they were at the helm, and rebuilt quickly after 2016 however have yet to win a playoff game since then. This organization is in a tough spot, an overreaction here could trigger a full teardown in 2025 and after major money being sunk into Reno’s is surely not the direction Rogers would prefer.
My prediction will not be well received by the fanbase and is as unsexy as they come but I think they run it back with a few tweaks. Atkins and Shapiro will survive although I do think the coaching staff will be replaced. John Schneider may or may not be included in that (editors note: prediction was made before the press conference) although everyone else outside of Pete Walker will most likely be let go.
Their pitching staff was elite in 2023 and the majority of them are coming back. Chad Greens’ option will almost certainly be exercised and hopefully, a concerted effort is put into signing Jordan Hicks to a contract to return The drop in power MUST be addressed and I think signing a Joc Pederson/Harrison Bader/Lourdes-type is a solid fit for LF/CF plus someone like Justin Turner or Jorge Soler. Obviously, Cody Bellinger would be perfect but the market for him may to rich for the front office.
No blockbusters will happen this year as I truly believe Bo & Vladdy will still be the centrepieces of this team come 2024.
– Scott Belford – Host of the Walkoff Podcast (@Walkoffpodcast)
I have more or less convinced myself that Alek Manoah’s time as a Blue Jays has come to an end.
There is obviously a lot to the story that we do not know, but the strain on the relationship *feels* pretty strong at this point. Given what led up to it, I wasn’t exactly surprised that Manoah wasn’t in the playoff dugout cheering on his teammates, but it was still jarring for him to have just disappeared and not be part of that.
I predict he will be he is traded for a young bat, from a team like Cincinnati, Baltimore, Minnesota etc. The Jays then lean into the strength of the free agent class (starting pitching) and sign a strong mid-rotation starter to replace Manoah, once again giving them among the best rotations in baseball.
– Brendon Kuhn (@_bkuh_)
On the last day of September, the Blue Jays held a champagne-soaked clubhouse celebration after backing into the playoffs due to the Seattle Mariners being more inept than they were in the final weeks of the season. Four days later, they were swept in the first round by a club many thought they could beat easily.
Seldom has so much alcohol been spilled in a bash for so little.
The season began with considerable promise. The bullpen and starting rotation had been bolstered, and the overall team defence had been upgraded. While the club struggled to go on a first-half run that seems to characterize all World Series teams, the bullpen was further strengthened at the trade deadline, and the Blue Jays seemed poised for a second-half surge that would carry them through the postseason.
That never happened, of course.
And now after a second season of being swept in the Wild Card series, Blue Jays fans are left with more questions than answers, most of which revolve around the team’s moribund offence.
Where does the team go from here? Are big changes in store? Only those with the sharpest of crystal balls will be able to accurately predict that. Facing a weak free-agent market for bats, the Blue Jays will have to at least extend a qualifying offer to Matt Chapman. There are those who have been clamouring for Addison Barger and/or Orelvis Martinez to take his place, but the organization may have cooled on their respective prospects at the hot corner. In fact, one or both might become trade chips (as well as prospects like Spencer Horwitz, Alan Roden, and Damiano Palmegiani, maybe a lower-level guy like Fernando Perez), along with what’s left of the system’s starting pitching depth – but don’t worry, Blue Jays fans: Ricky Tiedemann will not be going anywhere. Perhaps Davis Schneider competes for a job at spring training, but his second time through the league should serve as a cautionary tale.
Will there be major changes in the front office or the coaching staff? While there may be some minor moves, that seems unlikely. While there are those who say Mark Shapiro manages the game from the executive suite, that’s not accurate. Those who work for him are of a similar mindset, though, and even though some fans are clamouring for the head of John Schneider, this is a “trust the process” organization. The Blue Jays do have two future MLB managerial prospects in their system – Cesar Martin and Brent Lavallee – but if Schneider does get replaced, it feels like the front office may veer away from their promoting from within strategy for a more experienced hand at the Toronto tiller (editor note: prediction was made prior to the Atkins press conference).
In the final analysis, it wasn’t Schneider’s handling of the pitching staff that was to blame for the Blue Jays being swept by Minnesota. The Twins’ best players – banged up as they were – simply were their best players. That can’t be said of the Blue Jays top stars, one of whose brain cramp took the bat out of the hands of the team’s best hitter with the second game on the line. Changes need to happen, but perhaps it’s more a matter of tweaking the lineup as opposed to a wholesale overhaul.
– D.M. Fox (@DMFox705)
I am so hurt. Deeply wounded.
Yes, the easy comeback is “What are the odds that the team that showed up all year also showed up in the playoffs” but the truth is that I really wanted to believe in these guys and the idea that they had the secret sauce to be an overachiever when it matter. And then they just didn’t!!
What was the question again, ah yeah, the offseason.
As much as 12 hours after the loss makes calls for dramatic change seem like a reasonable straw to grasp, the current regime has shown — for better and worse — that being pragmatic and sticking to the plan is the way they will move forward. They built the complementary pieces of this team with 2023 in mind — it’s clear that between Chapman, Merrifield, Kiermaier, Belt, and other expiring free agents this was a prime window year. So it begs what did they see as the next step in the plan?
I wouldn’t be surprised if more than a few of those holes are filled internally. I think most of the guys passed end-of-season auditions, and Horwitz, and Schneider especially have plenty of justification to be seriously competing for bench/platoon roles.
– Andrew Zuber (@theZubes) – Less Than Jays Podcast
Free agent signing: Jorge Soler
Re-signing player: Jordan Hicks
Potential coaching changes: Dave Hudgens and Guillermo Martinez are fired and the team internally promotes some coaches from Buffalo (Matt Hague)
– Gate 14 Podcast (@Gate14Pod)
Following yet another disappointing ending, everything should be on the table for the Blue Jays this off-season, including front-office and managerial changes.
There needs to be accountability for the outcome of this season. That’s a trait this organization has preached over the last few years, and it must be applied when reflecting on the state of the franchise heading into 2024. What that will look like is difficult to predict. But, if I had to narrow it to one area, it might be turnover on John Schneider’s coaching staff. It might be Don Mattingly and others, namely those involved in the hitting room like Guillermo Martinez and Dave Hudgens.
– Thomas Hall (@ThomasHall85) – Contributor at Blue Jays Nation and Yahoo Sports
Regardless of any finish to 2023 for the Toronto Blue Jays, the 2024 squad was always going to look significantly different…
The “Fire Atkins” crowd will not like this but Atkins has built the only sustainable playoff contender in franchise history and there is a youth injection coming from AAA next season that is unprecedented in franchise history (Davis Schneider…Spencer Horwitz…Addison Barger…Orelvis Martinez…Bowden Francis…potentially Ernie Clement and Yosver Zulueta too, plus Hagen Danner so at least 5 and upwards of 7-8 Rookies will be getting major roles and playing time for the 2024 Toronto Blue Jays and I am extremely excited about that!)
We have seen the Jays spend too under Shapiro (Ryu, Springer, Bassitt, Berrios, Bo’s Arbitration Raise…etc) so I say all of that to say that in addition to the youth injection coming for the 2024 Toronto Blue Jays, I still predict a big ticket item will be added to this roster too (by cutting another BIG Cheque, or by being willing to take on a LOT of salary in a blockbuster-type Trade…Yes, like a Mike Trout blockbuster-type Trade!)
I would LOVE to see Rogers/Blue Jays go after Ohtani but I do not see that happening (he’s going to be Dodger)…I think something big is indeed going to happen money-wise for the Blue Jays, just not Ohtani-big unfortunately (I say unfortunately because the Jays can very much afford Ohtani and obviously it would be a massive move!)
– Craig Ballard (@craigballard77)
Prediction – Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro are fired.
When you look at the 8 years that Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro have been here and the lack of playoff success over that span with their rosters, it’s hard to see how patience isn’t growing thin with ownership.
Rogers spent a lot of money on this team, so much so that it was a club record. The team’s offense greatly underperformed largely due to the team’s core power hitters stopping hitting home runs and there seemed to be a damp mood on the season all throughout the year. In the end, the Blue Jays squeaked into the playoffs with 3 fewer wins than last year. Unfortunately, the offense again went quiet in the Wild Card series and a few bizarre decisions from management led to some very rough public reception from far beyond just the Toronto market.
The Jays paid Jose Berrios $131 million to pitch in these moments and they took the ball out of his hand. Additionally, there’s very little postseason revenue after only lasting two games and not getting any home games. The millions of dollars spent on renovations did not go to use. All in all, it’s a results-based business and the Blue Jays have spent but to no real success, it’s hard to see ownership taking that well. This isn’t my opinion on what should happen but what I think will happen.
– Jays Prospectus (@JaysProspectus)
After a season where it feels like the Blue Jays sacrificed their power to hit to the opposite field, expect the emphasis from the front office and coaching staff to be back on pulling the ball and power.
Following along on a trend where the Blue Jays become a good landing spot for bats coming off injuries or bad seasons (think Marcus Semien in 2021), I think the Blue Jays turn their attention to trying to lure Rhys Hoskins away from Philly.
Hoskins has a career 126 wRC+ and .275 ISO, proving there is tons of pop in his bat. Hoskins will be returning from a torn ACL and while it seems he is set on trying to return to Philadelphia, Ross Atkins, if still the GM, needs a big off-season and big bat. Hoskins would fit the bill.
– Brendan Panikkar (@Panikkar37)

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