Happy New Year.
The good news is that we only have to make it through January, February and March and we’ll have actually baseball to talk about.
The other good news the deadline to make moves is coming up quicker. Soon we’ll have some real news. The Jays are playing the waiting game. That might not be a bad idea, but it doesn’t make for a fun off-season for those of us who write about the Jays.
- A middle infielder.
- An outfielder.
- A starting pitcher.
- A lefty reliever.
- A backup catcher.
I’m not expecting all the ‘needs’ to be filled. I think they will make do with what they have in one or two of those spots.
Personally, I’d be shopping Kevin Pillar, to see if we can fill one of the needs, and giving the CF job to Anthony Alford. For me, I think it is his time. He’s the dynamic, athletic player the team keeps telling us we need. But, Pillar is a fan favorite and we seem to be unwilling to hand a job to a rookie.
I do think the Jays are considering moving Devon Travis to left field, going with Aledmys Diaz at second base and trying to find a good utility guy back up second and short. I think they are hoping that playing left will be easier on Travis’, that he’ll be less likely to get hurt out there and that he’s important enough to the offense to make it worth the shift. That’s all a guess, not even an educated one.
Personally, I’d leave him at second, I think his bat plays much better there, but then they know more about his health than I do.
For the infield, the Jays are rumored to be talking to the Pirates about Josh Harrison (but then the Yankees and Red Sox, among others, have been rumored to be talking about him too). Harrison would be a nice addition. He hit .272/.339/.432 with 16 homers in 128 games last year, playing second and third and some outfield. I don’t see the Jays wanting to give up the prospect the Pirates would like, but you never know. Howie Kendrick is still out there, as is Eduardo Nunez. If Nunez wanted to sign somewhere where he is likely to get 400-500 at bats, Toronto would be a good choice.
My worry is they will end up re-signing Ryan Goins. He could be a short time option and then callup Lourdes Gurriel if someone gets hurt.
In the outfield, Jon Heyman says the Jays have talked to J.D. Martinez, Carlos Gonzalez and Lorenzo Cain. Unlike last year, when they signed Kendrys Morales before the market dropped on power hitters, it looks like the Jays are wanting to let the market set the value before signing anyone.
For the lefty reliever spot, Heyman says they have been talking to the Padres about Brad Hand, who would be great to have, but I’m thinking the Padres would like to hold on to him. I don’t know who else they might be thinking about. They seemed to like Tim Mayza for more than I did, last year. Maybe they are thinking he can take the role. He did strikeout 27 batters in 17 innings for us.
For a starting pitcher, I have no idea what they were thinking. They talked to CC Sabathia, but I think CC was just trying to drive the price up before he signed with the Yankees. I get the feeling the Jays are hoping prices will drop as we get closer to spring training. Alex Cobb or Jake Arrieta would be nice, but not while they are still thinking 4-years and lots of money. It does seem like all the teams figure prices will go down as the season gets closer. Which I’m sure is a decision each team make on it’s own, not one where they all talked and decided as a group that this would be a good way to keep costs down.
Backup catcher is another spot where I can see the team waiting until spring training and hoping for a bargain. There are good free agents still looking for a contract, but they will hold out as long as they can in search of a starting job.
Insert gif of Tom twiddling his fingers.
Closest thing to real news....Apparently the Jays have offered a minor league contract to Ji-Man Choi. I think it would be a good idea to have someone around, in case the 2018 Justin Smoak is more like the 2016 Smoak than the 2017 Smoak.