Jan. 11, 2017
The Future of the Blue Jays
Blue Jays star hitters for the past eight years, both Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are out of contract. The Blue Jays will need to pay the two of them 25+ million each, for at least four years. Also, after a career season, outfielder Michael Saunders will hit the free agent market as well as former CY Young winner R.A Dickey, along with relief pitchers Scott Feldman, Brett Cecil and Joaquin Benoit. The Jays also have an option on the final year of veteran reliever Jason Grilli's contract. The good news for the Jays is that all five starting pitchers in the rotation remain under contract. The Blue Jays management have some very big decisions to make that could make or break the future of this team. Although all of the pending free agents have expressed much interest in returning to the club, it will come at a high price.
Jose Bautista has made it clear that he wants a five year contract, nearing 30 million dollars a season, however, the Blue Jays feel that the term is quite excessive, given that Jose's skills and health have begun to diminish the older he gets. The 36-year-old right fielder had a .234 average this past year with 22 homeruns and 69 RBI's, however he is continuously battling nagging injuries, failing to play an entire season for the past three years. Edwin Encarnacion however, seems to have no change in production, after another great season, hitting .263 with 42 homers and 127 RBI's. The 33-year-old first baseman seems to be the better choice of the two, if the Jays opt to only sign one of them. Both players have made huge impacts on the Blue Jays that will possibly land them a spot on the Level of Excellence in the Rogers Centre. If the Jays intend to keep both sluggers, it will cost them nearly 60 million a season to keep the two. Both players will get their big contracts, whether it be in Toronto or elsewhere, however both would like to continue their careers with the Blue Jays.
The other pending free agents may not be Blue Jays come spring training. After a career season and an all star game appearance, Michael Saunders can expect a large raise from teams around the league, but for the Blue Jays, Saunders is not a necessity to bring back on the team with Kevin Pillar, Ezequiel Carrera, Melvin Upton Jr, and Dalton Pompey all under contract. Saunders will be a valuable addition to many other teams around the league looking for a big right handed bat. As for the bullpen, Brett Cecil would like to remain a Blue Jay, and has been heavily relied on for the past two seasons out of the bullpen, although he struggled throughout this season. The Blue Jays should bring Cecil and 39-year-old Jason Grilli back for at least the next season, as Cecil's contract should not be anything more than eight million, and the Jays can use the option on Grilli's contract. Scott Feldman, Joaquin Benoit and R.A Dickey however, will more than likely hit the free agent market at the end of their contracts, and nearing the end of their careers. The free agency pool for relievers is quite deep this offseason, and the Jays could look for better replacements for whoever they lose.
The Blue Jays have a lot of big decisions to make in the next couple months, but hope to once again be a World series contender in the upcoming 2017 season.