As baseball’s winter meetings begin this weekend, the Toronto Blue Jays have plenty of holes to fill and questions to answer. Their only key move has been the signing of DH-first baseman Kendrys Morales, and lefty reliever Brett Cecil has already departed for St. Louis.
There will be a few more names to add to the free agent pool after today’s 5 p.m. non-tender deadline. I expect the Blue Jays will try to address their needs through both the open market and via trade, as there just aren’t enough puzzle pieces in the free agent market that fit the Jays most pressing issues.
The Jays are among three teams most recently linked to former Cub Dexter Fowler, who’s reportedly seeking upwards of $18 million a season. To me, this would be a key get for Toronto as they look to get more left-handed and agile, and it would give them a legitimate leadoff threat. The Jays are also rumoured to be engaged in trade talks regarding Mets outfielders Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson. If the Jays were successful in adding two of these three, their lineup would certainly be potent, even if Edwin Encarnacion (likely to leave) and Jose Bautista sign elsewhere. Another outfield name in trade rumours is the Tigers’ JD Martinez, owed $11.75 million in the last year of his two-year deal. Being a right handed power bat, he’s likely not on the Jays radar at this point. I’d suggested previously that Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez (owed $20M in 2017) should be an option the Jays look at, but the Rockies now appear to be in win-now mode, so he simply won’t be available now (he is a free agent after this season).
Boone Logan and Jerry Blevins are the top lefty set-up relievers on the free agent market, which is now a Toronto need with Cecil leaving. Most teams don’t fill out their bullpens until later in the offseason, and with Joe Biagini, Jason Grilli, and Roberto Osuna already pencilled in, the Jays are in a better starting position than most teams in this regard.
So if making acquisitions by trade, what would the Jays be able to give up? Those options likely won’t be popular with fans. Names like Kevin Pillar, Marcus Stroman, Dalton Pompey, Connor Greene, Vlad Guerrero Junior and Anthony Alford are sure to come up. How much are the Jays willing to give up to take advantage of their window of opportunity to win, which likely closes after 2018?
It’s worth remembering that the biggest move in Blue Jays history came December 5, 1990 when they acquired Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter for Tony Fernandez and Fred McGriff. Three years, later, the Blue Jays had a pair of World Series titles. Could we see another blockbuster deal at the winter meetings in 2016 that could put this team on the verge over the top? We’ll certainly be watching.