Do you think the Blue Jays will add another starter? Or are they done shopping after adding Matthew Shoemaker and Clayton Richard?
-- Barry P., Calgary, Alberta
The Blue Jays are still looking to add, but don't expect anything too flashy -- it seems unlikely they will hand someone a guaranteed job at this point. Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Ryan Borucki and Shoemaker are the projected top four, while Richard will compete for the final spot alongside Sean Reid-Foley, Thomas Pannone, Sam Gaviglio and Trent Thornton.
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The overall depth has Toronto feeling comfortable enough with the current situation. Targeting pitchers through trade with multiple years of control will always be a goal, but it's doubtful the Blue Jays will do much more than add another pitcher into the mix to compete. Instead, expect most of the upcoming moves to center on relievers.
After releasing Troy Tulowitzki, I read the Blue Jays want to add a shortstop for more infield depth. Can you explain why they traded Aledmys Diaz?
-- Gert L., Bussum, Netherlands
I see where you're going: Why would the Blue Jays trade a utility infielder only to end up needing one a couple of months later? Well, the simple answer is Toronto saw an opportunity to acquire a young starter in Thornton, and the club filled an area of need by dealing from a position of strength. The other part is that the Blue Jays don't have the same need for a high-quality backup as they did last spring.
Last year, the oft-injured Tulowitzki and Devon Travis were the projected starters up the middle. Toronto didn't need a backup as much as it needed another starter. This season, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. will start at short and Travis will remain at second, but the club also has Brandon Drury and Richard Urena at its disposal. Toronto doesn't need someone with starter's potential, it simply needs a competent backup who can handle shortstop. That candidate might be the recently signed Eric Sogard.
As I see it, the Blue Jays can add one more free agent by cutting Dalton Pompey. Everybody else on the 40-man roster seems safe. So where does that leave them for the rest of the offseason? I hear analysts/reporters say they should sign the same amount of relievers (John Axford, Seunghwan Oh, Tyler Clippard) as last year, but I doubt they have enough space.
-- Eric W., Winnipeg, Manitoba
The thing about Axford and Clippard is that they joined the Blue Jays on Minor League contracts with invitations to Spring Training. So expecting Toronto to sign one reliever to a big league deal -- like it did with Oh -- along with a couple of veterans on Minor League deals doesn't seem too farfetched. In fact, it seems like exactly what the Blue Jays should be doing.
The 40-man roster crunch that you mentioned is real and it's not going away anytime soon, but a lot can change between now and Opening Day. If veterans on Minor League deals impress during camp, it likely comes at the expense of relievers such as Danny Barnes or Joe Biagini. Gaviglio may prove to a redundant piece considering the other starting candidates. Then there are the inevitable spring injuries, some of which turn into stints on the 60-day disabled list. There will be time to figure out the 40-man roster, and the Blue Jays aren't in the mix for enough players on guaranteed deals for it to become a major issue.
Do you think Stroman will be traded before the start of the season?
-- Allison H., Moncton, New Brunswick
This continues to be the most frequently asked question of the offseason. I'll say this: It's no secret that Stroman is available, and the Blue Jays are motivated to get a deal done. But at no point this offseason has a move seemed close, nor have the two sides sat down and engaged in serious discussions about a long-term contract.
With two years of control remaining on a rebuilding ballclub, Stroman is an obvious trade candidate, and that's not going to change. The Duke University product's value took a hit last year thanks to injuries and a 5.54 ERA. He needs time to rebuild his standing, and the Blue Jays don't need to rush anything by trading away a diminished asset -- especially one they expect to bounce back. Will a trade happen before Opening Day? Doubtful, but there's a good chance it will happen before July 31.
Instead of eating all Russell Martin's salary and trading him, why not keep him around as a mentor/backup catcher and release Luke Maile? Leave Reese McGuire in Triple-A until next year.
-- Jeremy C., Melbourne, Australia
The main reason the Blue Jays want to move on from Martin is because it would clear the path for the rookie tandem of Jansen and McGuire. The two worked together well at Triple-A Buffalo last year, and allowing them to develop at the same time could have some benefits. Getting rid of Maile doesn't solve the problem of playing time, especially when he has options remaining and can be stashed in the Minors as depth.
The real question here is: How motivated are the Blue Jays to get rid of Martin? Toronto didn't waste much time releasing Tulowitzki, and there's an outside chance Martin is headed for a similar fate. At least for now, the Blue Jays are remaining patient, and they will offer to eat a large chunk of Martin's $20 million salary in any deal. What happens to that patience if Martin is still in the fold when camp opens next month remains to be seen.
Do you expect the Blue Jays to sign a lower-tier second baseman like John Forsythe or Brad Miller to sure up depth? Or is Sogard the best we're getting?
-- Joe K., Calgary, Alberta
Any infielder the Blue Jays sign from this point on -- at least one that comes with the possibility of making the Opening Day roster -- will have to be able to play shortstop. Gurriel will be the starter, but the utility infielder will need to fill that spot from time to time.
Those guidelines rule out Forsythe, because he has started just two games at shortstop since the start of 2014. Miller is more realistic, but the Blue Jays are unlikely to sign anyone to a big league deal, and whatever candidate gets added from this point on will have to be content with coming into camp to compete for a job. The final job might not belong to Sogard, but it'll be someone of similar ilk.