The Toronto Blue Jays made five different free agency signings this offseason, and all of them were beneficial. In a crowded AL East, the Blue Jays needed to make additions to their young core in order to compete. You could argue that the Blue Jays free agency didn’t exactly fill their exact holes. However, it is hard to argue with a signing like George Springer. Springer was signed to a six-year, 150-million-dollar deal. Some think Toronto overpaid, but Springer has not shown signs of slowing down soon, so I think it was a good decision by the Blue Jays to add the best position player on the market. There were many other Blue Jays free agency signings apart from Springer, so let’s breakdown the effects of each trade.
Springer was one of the most heavily sought-after free agents in baseball this offseason, and Toronto nabbed him. He will replace Randal Grichuk in center, and although Grichuk was decent, Springer’s bat will be a heavy improvement. Defensively, Springer hasn’t been terrible, but he hasn’t been excellent. This is a purely hitting addition. As Springer nears the end of his contract and his athleticism deteriorates, we will see him in RF or as a designated hitter. With an offense as good as Toronto’s (7th in runs per game), Springer makes them even scarier.
Although third base was the Blue Jays biggest need in their lineup, they went with shortstop instead. Semien was still a fantastic addition, however, because Cavan Biggio can slide to third base. Their infield is now looking like Biggio, Semien, Bo Bichette, and Vladdy Jr. From left to right. This young core is going to be exciting and talented for years to come. The Blue Jays offense may be one of the most intriguing in baseball, and they might have enough firepower to outhit their pitching. Luckily, they addressed that weaker pitching staff in free agency as well.
Robbie Ray was one of the Blue Jays’ free agency signings that was a little more controversial. The Jays spent 8 million on a starting pitcher that has had one phenomenal year. The rest of those years have been just mediocre to below average. Even last season was Ray’s worst, with his worst ERA and ERA+ of his career. At best, Ray will slot in and be a middle to back of the rotation guy that can eat innings and stay consistent. Robbie Ray may have been a decent signing, but with guys like Jake Odorizzi or James Paxton on the market, it seems confusing. They are more of a sure thing than Ray, and even his ceiling isn’t super high. Hopefully Ray pans out, otherwise it could decimate the starting rotation even more.
New Bullpen Guys
The Blue Jays shelled out 8.5 million to gather two relivers in free agency. Tyler Chatwood, who played for the Cubs last season, can be both a reliever and starter, while Kirby Yates has the ability to be one of the best relievers in baseball. Yates got injured last season, but in 2019 he gathered Cy Young votes. He led the league in saves and had a 1.19 ERA, and if he can return to form, he has the ability to be the best closer in the American League. If Yates can bounce back from injury, the Blue Jays might just have gotten a steal for their bullpen.
Tyler Chatwood, however, is going to be an inning-eating reliever. Chatwood has the ability to start games, so that ensures his endurance for the Blue Jays. The Blue Jays free agency signings in their bullpen are good ones, unlike the starting rotation. Chatwood will be a mid-three ERA guy, but can help out in long distance bullpen situations.
The Tough AL East
Despite a pretty successful offseason, it will still be tough for the Jays to win the division. They have to compete with the defending American League champion Rays and the Bronx Bombers. The Rays are definitely going to take a step back this year after dishing out Blake Snell, and the Jays could overtake them. Unfortunately, I find it hard to believe that Toronto can overtake the Yankees. The Blue Jays’ free agency moves did not improve pitching enough to take down New York. The Jays offense will be able to outslug most teams, but the Yankees are not one of them.
Even with their great offseason and shining future, the Blue Jays are at least one year out from the division title. However, don’t be surprised to see them in the playoffs this year. They have upset potential when they reach the playoffs, but they need pitching to get them there.
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