Jan. 03, 2019
One feather at a time: The next steps for the Toronto Blue Jays
With the Blue Jays officially locking up Jose Bautista for the 2017 season with options to carry through the 2019 season, there are still many questions marks to be fulfilled on the Blue Jays roster going into next season.
The Bautista signing gives the Blue Jays approximately 10 million dollars remaining to fill the remaining needs according to Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet. Zwelling also states it may be less if Toronto wants to spend some money in July for a playoff run.
This puts the Blue Jays in a very awkward situation. You still need left handed relievers, possibly a backup catcher, and maybe another outfielder.
Here are some possible options with the budget limitations now that could assist the Blue Jays going forward:
Fill the backup catcher role and remaining outfielder spot from within. With A.J. Jimenez being called up to the 40 man roster earlier this offseason, it is very likely if the Jays spend their remaining cash on bullpen arms they could use Jimenez as a backup catcher. Jimenez hit .241 last season with the Buffalo Bisons, he also allowed only one passed ball and caught 35% of runners stealing.
Jimenez would have the opportunity to learn from Russell Martin for the remaining three years of his deal, and would perhaps make him the catcher of the future.
The Jays also have Max Pentecost continuing to develop in the minor league system. Pentecost is coming off a good year with the bat in the low A levels hitting 10 homers and 41 RBIs. He is no doubt a few years away from being major league ready.
Allowing Jimenez to come up in 2017 would allow Toronto to specifically focus on bullpen arms, and or an outfielder. Yet the outfielding option is now taken care of.
With Bautista now signed, and an already established everyday outfielder in Melvin Upton Jr, the Jays do not need to make another move for an outfielder. Instead, you can focus your money, and attention on acquiring bullpen arms.
The bullpen market has lost a bunch of big name free agents this offseason. Most notably relievers such as Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon. Yet, there are still some feasible left handed options available such as Jerry Blevins. Blevins went 4-2 with a 2.79 ERA last season with the Mets.
Another option is Travis Wood who pitched for the Chicago Cubs last season. The converted starter turned reliever went 4-0 with a 2.95 ERA last season with the Cubs. With the departure of Brett Cecil the Jays need to bring another left handed reliever and can’t put the pressure squarely on the shoulders of Aaron Loup.
With the signing of Jose Bautista to a one year deal it answers quite a few of the Jays fans questions coming into the 2017 season. Yet before the first pitch is thrown, the Blue Jays will have to address a few of the remaining needs if they look to make their third straight playoff appearance since 1991-1993.