In 2015 the Blue Jays ended a 22-year playoff drought. The fashion in which the Jays did it was incredible, with the Jays' offense being historically good and outscoring the next place team by 127 runs. Toronto had a ridiculous +221 run differential which was easily the best in baseball. After the season many thought that the Blue Jays were poised to be in line for a huge season in 2016 which started with a big off season of bulking up their roster for the coming season. Instead, they lost general manager Alex Anthopolous and so far many Jays' fans have been disappointed in the moves that the new front office has made.
Many had hoped that would sign an ace such as David Price, Johnny Cueto, Zack Greinke, and such. With guys like Chris Davis, Jason Heyward, Alex Gordon, Yoenis Cespedes, and many other big time hitters available the Blue Jays had many options of guys to add to their already-crowded offense. Instead, their biggest moves thus far have been signing J.A. Happ and re-signing Marco Estrada. It's easy to criticize the lack of high-profile names but, while the moves they have made thus far lack true star power, they might be just the moves that they needed.
The Blue Jays were one of the best teams in baseball this year pretty much from the beginning of the season. While the first half didn't show the win-loss record the Jays had hoped for they were still outpacing the rest of the league in offense and run differential. While it wasn't until the trade deadline that the club started winning, they clearly had most of the pieces needed to win from the start.
For those wanting the Blue Jays to sign a star pitcher it's worth noting that they will have a number one pitcher that they didn't have for most of last season in Marcus Stroman. Stroman missed most of the year with an injury, so getting him back for a full season is like adding an ace to their staff. After Stroman, R.A. Dickey is a good number two for this team as he consistently keeps the Jays in games and lets his defense and offense produce behind him. The rest of the Jays' starting rotation will consist of some combination of Estrada, Happ, Jesse Chavez, and Drew Hutchison. Jays have also signed minor league deals with Brad Penny and Roberto Hernandez (formerly known as Fausto Carmona), who provide veteran depth at the minor league level. This group (aside from Stroman) isn't the most exciting pitching staff in baseball but is more than capable of winning games with the Jays' combination of offensive and defensive play.
For many who were hoping the Blue Jays would find a big-time hitter on the free agent market, their offense was already the best in baseball last year and will see nearly everyone from 2015 return next season. They will see the added benefit of having Michael Saunders back from injury. Hopefully, Devon Travis will be back by May and play more games this year at or near last year's level. But, the biggest boost may be the addition of Troy Tulowitzki for the full season. The Troy Tulowitzki the Blue Jays got after the deadline in 2015 wasn't exactly what they expected, with him slashing .239/.317/.380 (well below his career average of .297/.369/.508). Tulowitzki should be able to regain some of his form in 2016 and provide another potent bat to the Toronto lineup.
Financially these moves work as well. Russell Martin has a contract that is severely back-loaded. His pay jumps up to $15 million for 2016 and $20 million from 2017-2020. The Blue Jays will also be paying Tulowitzki $20 million through 2019 before his salary starts to decline. The Blue Jays don't have as much financial flexibility moving forward as one might hope. This is especially concerning when you consider that both Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion have contracts that expire at the end of the season, and Josh Donaldson will continue to see his salary rise for the next few seasons in arbitration. All of this means that the Jays will either need to get creative on contracts next offseason, or we will have to wave goodbye to either Bautista or Encarnacion. While the likelihood of re-signing both is small, the small moves they have made make extending both those guys at least a possibility.
While I am a Blue Jays fan and would have loved to see them sign the biggest free agents on the market, I understand that the team needs to be smart about who they acquire. I think that while the moves they have made aren't flashy, they are good moves that will result in another postseason appearance.