TORONTO -- The Blue Jays will roll into MLB’s Winter Meetings in San Diego next week with their offseason laid out in front of them.
Some early work has been done, dealing Teoscar Hernández to the Mariners for reliever Erik Swanson and pitching prospect Adam Macko (No. 8). This solved an immediate problem for the Blue Jays, bringing in Swanson as a potentially elite option on the back end of their bullpen alongside Jordan Romano, but the price tag wasn’t cheap.
As the offseason ramps up in the coming weeks, the Blue Jays need to add in several areas, all while navigating a payroll that is rising quickly due to big free-agent deals and members of the young core climbing through their expensive arbitration years. There needs to be some finesse involved, which could mean another turn to the trade market.
Looking ahead, here’s what you need to know:
- Sunday, Dec. 4: HOF Contemporary Era ballot results released (Albert Belle, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Dale Murphy, Rafael Palmeiro, Curt Schilling)
- Monday, Dec. 5: All-MLB Team announced
- Tuesday, Dec. 6: Inaugural Draft Lottery, AL/NL Relievers of Year announced
- Wednesday, Dec. 7: Rule 5 Draft
The Blue Jays have a few items on their shopping list, but written in bold at the top of is “starting pitching.” Behind Alek Manoah, Kevin Gausman and José Berríos, this club needs a legitimate MLB starter to round out the rotation. Two would be even better. Yusei Kikuchi and Mitch White are options, of course, but could both fit much better in bulk roles, providing rotation depth when needed like Ross Stripling did so well in his time with Toronto.
Beyond that, the Blue Jays would love to add a lefty bat in the outfield to round out this lineup after the departure of Hernández. Additional bullpen help and some depth moves can be expected, but the big spending -- whether it’s cash or prospects -- will come in the rotation and outfield.
Potential Trade Candidates
Danny Jansen, Alejandro Kirk and Gabriel Moreno represent an excess of riches at catcher. This is a position that isn’t exactly deep elsewhere, so the Blue Jays have a major opportunity here. Jansen, the 27-year-old veteran with two years of control remaining, lines up as the most sensible candidate, but Kirk and Moreno hold exciting value in their own right. This organization loves Jansen, too, so this will be a difficult decision either way. General manager Ross Atkins’ phone will be on fire, though, especially after the top free-agent catchers sign.
Prospect to Know
The left-hander reached Double-A last season, posting a 2.17 ERA with 117 strikeouts over 78 2/3 innings across three levels. He won’t turn 21 until August, but he could push for a rotation spot by mid-season. The Blue Jays can’t lean on him as the answer, but if he continues on this trajectory, he has the potential to be a legitimate ace.
Rule 5 Draft
Don’t expect the Blue Jays to make a selection, as it would be difficult for a team with World Series aspirations to carry a player all season, but they do have some talent exposed, led by outfielder Gabriel Martinez (No. 9) and right-hander Adrian Hernandez (No. 24). MLB Pipeline highlighted Hernandez as a player who could be selected, given his exceptional changeup and bullpen readiness.
What’s in their wallet?
Dollars and cents aren’t the most exciting offseason topic, but they control everything. Atkins has said recently that Rogers ownership is fully supporting this club taking the next step, but certain realities set in as a payroll approaches $200 million.
Do the Blue Jays have mid-range money, allowing them to make one notable signing and fill out their depth, or is their room for a legitimate run at star talent on multiple fronts?