It’s been a very very slow moving off season. Not just for the Blue Jays, but for baseball as a whole.
The management of all the teams seem to have decided that they are better off to way until the last minute to fill open roster spots, feeling (individually, not a group because that would be collusion, they wouldn’t do that) that free agents will be willing to sign for less as the season gets closer.
As a baseball blogger, it is likely to drive me to drink (as long as it drives me home again, I’m ok with that). I’m hoping the next three months turn out to be a lot of fun. If not....there was that offer to write for a beer blog.
Let’s take a look at the team if the season started today.
Russell Martin: Last year he played 91 games, 83 games as catcher. That was his fewest games at catcher since he became a major leaguer. I’d imagine the over/under on games caught would be 100 for this year.
Backup? Right now it looks like Luke Maile. They really need to do better.
Justin Smoak: Smoak is coming off his best season ever. The big question is can he be as good again.
Devon Travis: Travis played in only 50 games last year. There is chance they move him to the outfield, but I doubt it.
Troy Tulowitzki: Troy played 66 games last year. The major injury was a freak injury slipping off the first base bag. They tell us he’s healthy now.
Josh Donaldson: His fourth season with the Jays. He’s had OPS+ numbers of 151, 153 and 144, in his first three. Odds are he’ll be in that range again. He played 113 games last year, we’d be a lot better off if he could play 150 this year.
Steve Pearce: He’s likely to be our left fielder. He played 92 games last year. He’s only had one season of over 100 games played, so odds are slim he’ll be out there everyday.
Kevin Pillar: His defensive numbers were down last year. If I was running things, I’d be shopping him this winter. I’m a big fan of trading guys one year too early, rather than waiting one year too late.
Teoscar Hernandez: At the moment, he looks to be our right fielder. If he can hit like he did last September, we’ll be very happy.
Kendrys Morales: We’d love it if the Jays were able to try him, but I don’t think it’s likely. I think the best we can hope for is a bit of a bounce back season.
Ezequiel Carrera: Had his career best season last year. The .356 OBP would make him a nice lead off hitter if he can keep it up. Gibby did a good job of playing him almost exclusively against right-handed pitchers.
Yangervis Solarte: Our big free agent signing (so far). He can play pretty much all over the diamond. I wouldn’t be surprised if he played 140+ games. The last three seasons he’s had bWARs of 2.2, 2.2 and 1.3. He looks to be a step up from the duo of Barney and Goins.
Aledmys Diaz: Picked up in trade, back in December. He’s played mostly at short, in the majors, but he could play the infield spots and outfield if needed. He had a great rookie season (3.5 bWAR) and a poor second season (-0.7 bWAR). If he could hit the middle of that, I’d be happy.
I’d think the Jays really need to find a back up catcher, though I think it’s likely they will wait until spring training. I wouldn’t be against them using Reese McGuire to back up Martin and then calling up Danny Jansen if Martin were to go on the DL, but I’m doubting the team goes that way.
And the team is talking about adding an outfielder. They have been talking about free agent Lorenzo Cain. J.D. Martinez is still looking for a free agent contract. Christian Yelich is likely to be traded, but I can’t see the Marlins trading him to the Jays without getting one of Guerrero or Bichette back. I don’t want them to do that. Thankfully the Mets signed Jay Bruce yesterday, so we don’t have to talk about him anymore.
I’m not pessimistic about the offense. I think we are better protected for injuries in the middle infield. On the flip side, I’m not sold on Teoscar yet. I’d feel better if we pick up a good outfielder.
The big worry, as always, is injuries. If we end up with the infield missing 250 games due to injuries, things won’t end well.