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The Toronto Blue Jays Off-Season Needs
Last off-season it seemed the Blue Jays had won the World Series during the Winter Meetings. Toronto made a series of acquisitions that placed them as the favourite to win it all. Many Canadians thought their 20 year championship drought was going to come to an end.
The season came and went. Injuries were a constant. The Jays failed to make the playoffs and came last in the most competitive division in baseball. There were some positives. Attendance was higher than it has been in years. Over 2.5 Million in total attendance overall and 14th in the league overall. Over the previous 3 seasons the Jays averaged just under 1.85 million per season .
Blue General Manager Alex Anthropolous, and CEO Paul Beeston have taken these statistics to owners, Rogers Communications, and requested an increase in payroll between twelve and twenty million dollars. Head office has given the green light. Free Agency has begun. So the speculation begins.
Last off-season, the Jays acquired starting pitchers Mark Buerhle and Josh Johnson as well 2012 NL Cy Young Award winner, R.A Dickey. Buerhle and Dickey gave the Jays 200+ innings. Perennially being able to pitch 200+ is somewhat of an anomaly in baseball. By letting the disappointing Josh Johnson walk into free agency, the Jays have more to spend on the market. With Buerhle and Dickey both under contract for one more season, the Jays are hoping for the resurgence of Brendan Morrow to be the number 3 guy. The Jays also sent four all-stars to the Summer classic, all while having the best bullpen in baseball.
Compared to the playoff teams last season, the Jays need a number 4 guy in the rotation that will put them over the hump. The Tigers, Rays, and Red Sox all relied on their bottom-of-the-rotation-starts in September to punch their tickets into the playoffs.
The Blue Jays have some young arms that are hungry to get back on the mound after injuries last season. Scott Hutchison and Kyle Drabek have major league experience and desire to possess a rotation spot. However, both Anthropolous and Beeston have expressed interest in acquiring a starting pitcher with the increased payroll.
Anthropolous speculates that either Hutchison or Drabek will get a rotation spot behind their potential winter acquisition. Some notable names in the free agent pool include Ubaldo Jimenez, Bronson Arroyo, Ervin Santana, Matt Garza, and former Blue Jays A.J Burnett and Roy Halladay.
The Jays would likely have to overpay for Jimenez, Santana and Garza and would not want to give a term length over 4 years. Dropping the term and increasing the cash might entice one of these pitchers to sign a bridge contract, perform very well, and receive an increase in salary. The only downside for these pitchers is that the Rogers Centre had 214 home runs hit this season.
J.P Arencibia set the record for the lowest road batting average in Major League history. Yes, that is just awful and the Jays can’t afford these statistics for another year. On top of that, his defensive play was absolutely dismal. The Jays need a starting catcher to handle the rotation while hitting above the Mendoza Line. Brian McCann is set to become a free agent, but his defensive play has diminished. With Arencibia being demoted to a backup role, the Jays would have a decent 1-2 punch. Arencibia could also come off the bench and pinch hit, a much more viable option. Another free agent option would be recent World Series winner Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The man with the longest name in baseball history can catch, hit, and play less than a hundred games a year while providing good contact and power.
Second Base was the hardest position to fill last season. The Jays had a plethora of different players take second at some point. Alexi Casilla, Skip Schumacher, and Omar Infante are all U.F.A’s that can play everyday. They are all good contact hitters and do not mind having days off. Infante and would fit in well with the Spanish contingent. Infante and Reyes were teammates in Miami during the 2012 season.
Barring a major trade, the Jays need to make a dent in free agency yet again. I am expecting the moves to be slow at first. The Jays will explore the trade market before exploring free agency, as will most teams. But I feel that the Jays will have their hand in a few big name players and will be vying for them to come play North of the border.
Featured Image: www.bluejays.com