TORONTO -- There is still plenty of time for things to change, but the Blue Jays' current projected lineup looks very similar to the one that they ended the 2017 season with.Longtime franchise icon Jose Bautista is a free agent, and Teoscar Hernandez has an opportunity to earn regular playing
TORONTO -- There is still plenty of time for things to change, but the Blue Jays' current projected lineup looks very similar to the one that they ended the 2017 season with.
Longtime franchise icon Jose Bautista is a free agent, and Teoscar Hernandez has an opportunity to earn regular playing time. But outside of that, Toronto has -- to date -- stuck with the status quo.
In an offseason that has been slow to develop, additional moves are still expected. But with Spring Training approximately one month away, MLB.com is examining the projected lineups for all 30 teams in the Major Leagues. Here's a closer look at the Blue Jays' options:
LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY
Devon Travis, 2B
Josh Donaldson, 3B
Justin Smoak, 1B
Kendrys Morales, DH
Russell Martin, C
Troy Tulowitzki, SS
Teoscar Hernandez, RF
Steve Pearce, LF
Kevin Pillar, CF
Donaldson's long-term future remains very much in question, but as long as he's in Toronto, the Blue Jays possess one of the most feared hitters in the game. The pending free agent has the ability to almost single-handedly carry a lineup for weeks at a time, and if Toronto has a shot at contending in 2018, Donaldson will need to have an MVP-caliber season. Travis and Smoak each come with questions and potentially some skepticism, but they have the type of upside that, when combined with Donaldson, could help the Blue Jays' top three match up with just about any team in baseball.
There's a clear lack of depth to this projected starting nine. Toronto scored the fewest runs in the American League last season, and while improved health from Travis, Tulowitzki and Donaldson would help, this team is still missing another impact bat. Bigger things will have to be expected from Morales after a disappointing season that saw him post a .753 OPS, which was below his career norms despite moving to the more hitter-friendly ballparks of the AL East. Another question is whether the Blue Jays would consider using Travis in left field to create playing time at second for Aledmys Diaz.
WHAT MIGHT CHANGE
The outfield is still very much in a state of flux. Pillar will be the everyday center fielder, but everything else is up in the air. Pearce and Ezequiel Carrera currently project to platoon in left, but the Blue Jays could easily upgrade the position both offensively and defensively. Hernandez and prospect Anthony Alford have options remaining and can be sent to the Minors, which further increases Toronto's ability to facilitate moves.
Toronto's catching and infield depth seem fine. The outfield has plenty of options, but the lineup needs to be upgraded somewhere, and that is the most obvious spot. In 2017, Blue Jays outfielders were one of baseball's least effective units, with a combined .718 OPS. The current group risks continuing that trend, but the offseason is still far from over.
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.