Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
It looks like the Blue Jays aren’t going to be making any more major additions this off-season
By Cam Lewis20 days ago
This certainly hasn’t been the off-season that Blue Jays fans were hoping for.
Following the team’s second consecutive sweep in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, disappointment quickly turned into excitement as the Blue Jays were said to be among the finalists to land two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani in free agency.
With Ohtani a legitimate possibility, exciting fallback options in Juan Soto and Yoshinobu Yamamoto behind him, and other quality names on the open market such as Cody Bellinger, it appeared inevitable that the Blue Jays would make a significant splash this winter.
We’re now into February, with pitchers and catchers set to report to spring training in a few days, and the only additions the Blue Jays have made are Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Justin Turner, and Yariel Rodriguez. Ohtani signed with the L.A. Dodgers, Yamamoto followed him to Hollywood, and the New York Yankees made a significant add by trading for Soto.
There are still quality names out there, highlighted by Bellinger, Matt Chapman, Jordan Montgomery, and Blake Snell, who are all represented by Scott Boras. It wouldn’t be surprising for any of these players to remain free agents right up until the start of spring training, and both Bellinger and Chapman make plenty of sense for the Blue Jays and their needs.
But based on what Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith said on Monday, it looks like they’ve finished making major additions this off-season.
Having added Justin Turner to their roster, the Blue Jays’ off-season is nearing completion.Of course there’s always the possibility a late deal emerges, either in free agency or on the trade market, but for the first time all winter it appears this might be it (on paper, Willy Adames of the Brewers would still be a great fit, but for what it’s worth there wasn’t much traction on that front earlier in the off-season).Since the Blue Jays have now completed most or perhaps even all of their off-season shopping, we now have a pretty clear sense of how their team will look, if healthy. But even so, some questions remain about how the players on this roster fit together inning to inning and game to game.
Nicholson-Smith went on to discuss a few questions remaining about Toronto’s roster, including who’s going to platoon with their left-handed bats in the outfield and what roles different internal options are going to play, but the only external player mentioned is right-handed hitting free agent Tommy Pham.
If nothing else winds up happening, the Blue Jays will have subtracted Matt Chapman, Brandon Belt, Whit Merrifield, Hyun Jin Ryu, Jordan Hicks, and Jay Jackson while replacing them with Justin Turner, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Yariel Rodriguez.
Even for those who never believed that the Blue Jays would land Ohtani, that’s a disappointing haul for a team that had some glaring needs last season. The Blue Jays still lack an impact left-handed bat that can play in the middle of their lineup and pitching depth is still a concern.
But when looking at how general manager Ross Atkins spoke about the team’s roster after re-signing Kevin Kiermaier and adding Kiner-Falefa back in January, it isn’t all that surprising that he views his off-season as nearly complete.
Atkins mentioned multiple times that he liked the team’s roster, the depth options that they have available, and that the Blue Jays believe that last year’s poor slugging results were an anomaly. He said “I don’t think we’ll add three players, most likely, it’s closer to one” and spoke about Kiner-Falefa, Santiago Espinal, and Cavan Biggio all playing at third base.
Again, it certainly isn’t the off-season Blue Jays fans were hoping for when they were dreaming about the likes of Ohtani, Soto, Yamamoto, and Bellinger, but the Blue Jays seem to believe that they have they already have a World Series contender with their current roster.
That may or may not be the case, nobody can predict what’s going to happen in a given baseball season. One thing seems certain, though. If things wind up going poorly and the team again fizzles out without winning a playoff game, Atkins won’t be the one to guide the Blue Jays through the next steps.
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