Inbox: How does market look for Blue Jays?

January 8th, 2021

TORONTO -- All is quiet on the northern front, as one week into the new year, the Blue Jays are still looking for their first big splash of the offseason.

The Mets’ acquisition of Francisco Lindor shook the market, and while right-hander Tomoyuki Sugano returning to Japan can’t be seen as a positive, it should lend some clarity to that second-tier pitching market.

Here are some of your questions about what’s happened and what’s next:

What does the Lindor trade mean for the Blue Jays?
-- Everyone

Depending on whose Twitter mentions you stumble into, the Blue Jays have either botched the offseason entirely or masterfully positioned themselves to land their top targets on their own terms. Of course, neither is accurate.

The truth lies in the middle, as it typically does, and it’s OK to sit on the fence here by saying Lindor going to the Mets is just “slightly bad” for the Blue Jays. Toronto still has plenty of time, money and options -- the three ingredients of a successful offseason -- but as players like Lindor, Yu Darvish and Ha-Seong Kim find new homes, other clubs will refocus their efforts at the top of the market, too.

For Toronto, this means that landing outfielder George Springer is even more important than it was a week ago. The Mets are by no means out of the running, and they could very well still be the favorite to land the 31-year-old on what’s expected to be near a five-year deal. The Blue Jays are very much involved, but it’s time to see the aggression we’ve heard so much about. Missing out on Lindor can’t be properly contextualized just yet, but if Toronto misses out on Springer, it’s time to worry.

What's the sense inside the organization of whether baseball will be played in Toronto this season -- is the party line still that the Blue Jays will be playing in Toronto at some point this summer, or have we fully moved on to Plan B or C?
-- Matt, Toronto

The Blue Jays still hope to return to Rogers Centre at some point during the regular season, with a start at their Spring Training home in Dunedin, Fla., the likeliest first step. Nothing has been made official, but that should be manageable for the club, especially with their new training complex in Dunedin.

The NHL and NBA can either pave the way for this or make it impossible. The NHL’s Canadian division going off without a hitch would help, with those clubs flying between Canadian markets, but in both examples, there is no travel across the Canada-US border, which is a major sticking point. The rollout time of the COVID-19 vaccine is the other obvious factor, which will vary from market to market.

What we’ve got here are variables, and variables are the enemy of planning. The Blue Jays have every intention of getting back to the dome in a safe manner this season, but the pandemic calls the shots.

The trade market for starting pitching is dwindling. If the Blue Jays don't move soon and up their offers, aren't they going to have to drop to Tier 2 pitchers?
-- Anita N.

With the Blue Jays focusing their top-end attention on players like Springer or DJ LeMahieu, the second tier of pitching looks likelier. Don’t rule out the trade market, though, where they have the ability to take on salary (like the Padres did with Darvish). Toronto would love to find a No. 2-caliber arm alongside Nate Pearson and behind Hyun Jin Ryu, but that will be a crowded market once it starts to move. There’s value to be found, though, and this is where the Blue Jays can use their financial muscle to get their guy without breaking the bank.

Who are the rookies you believe are going to be ready, aside from Nate Pearson, for the Blue Jays in 2021?
-- @Yuushalinsky

Prospect development will be fascinating after a 2020 season without Minor League play. Right-hander Simeon Woods Richardson (No. 4 prospect) is my pick, and while the club’s competitiveness will determine how many young players get a shot, keep his name in mind. Just 20, he’s mature for his age and his invitation to Summer Camp in '20 at Rogers Centre was telling.

What would be a perfect offseason for you (i.e., name the players you’d like the Blue Jays to acquire)? Is there any chance of Toronto signing Kolten Wong to shore up the middle-infield defense and adding a high-OBP guy to the bottom of the lineup? Any news on Taijuan Walker, Anthony Bass or Ken Giles?
-- Iván G.

The perfect offseason for the Blue Jays still starts with Springer. Depth starters and part-time infielders can be found any time, but a center fielder with Springer’s offensive talent is rare, which is why he’s so valuable. I expect the Blue Jays to pad their lineup with some veteran depth, but that could come later.

Regarding the old friends, Walker certainly made himself some money last season with the Blue Jays, and he will remain a consideration. Bass, like A.J. Cole, could reunite with Toronto later in the offseason, when it likes to do some of its bullpen work on smaller deals, while it’s possible Giles could land a two-year deal that allows him to rehab from Tommy John surgery with a club in 2021 before returning to the mound in '22.

With a depth of catchers in the system, who would you look to trade and who would be a possible trade partner?
-- @selwyn42550990

The Blue Jays have Danny Jansen, Alejandro Kirk, Reese McGuire, Gabriel Moreno and Riley Adams on their 40-man roster, so something’s got to give. Kirk has been targeted by opposing clubs multiple times in the past year, but his potential at the plate looks awfully nice in Toronto uniform. Moreno has legitimate value if the Blue Jays are aiming high, but a likelier scenario could see McGuire or Adams used as a piece to acquire an arm at some point in 2021. Regardless, it’s a good problem to have.