What's Next?

Monday, January 25 2021 @ 07:36 AM EST

Contributed by: Eephus

The Blue Jays have been cooking up a dish this past week that Gordon Ramsay might well approve of. Olive oil in! A dash of Yates, in! Springer in!

What? No, you've been watching too many YouTube cooking videos...

With Tyler Chatwood and Kirby Yates on board to bolster the bullpen, plus some new outfielder... there's no question this team has significantly raised its floor the past week. All the excitement of course begs the question: what should they do next?

(But first, a few thoughts on the shiny new centerfielder that'll be patrolling... somewhere in Blue Jay blue this upcoming year.)

It goes without saying that George Springer is an elite player, full stop. I can see some concerns of course: how he'll age, if he's actually a positive defender in CF (I think he's not great but good) and of course the whole trash can cheating thing (which you just know somebody is going to ask him during that first press conference).

His undeniable elite skill is his bat. He's been a consistently great hitter his entire career, his OPS+ never dipping below 124 in any season. He strikes out a lot, though he's managed to curb that as he's gotten older and more selective off breaking stuff. What's most impressive I think though is how well rounded his offensive game is: he gives you enough patience and OBP that he can definitely be your leadoff hitter, enough speed (though he doesn't steal many bases) that you'd want him ahead of your big power bats, yet he himself is such a power hitter that you probably want him driving in those guys also. There are a lot of different ways his guy can help your team with the stick, plus all the championship experience is one of those intangibles that make for lazy click-baity articles but is arguably useful for a young, relatively inexperienced core like the Blue Jays have.

One historical concern could be that there is a bit of a precedent of big contracts to free agent outfielders not working out particularly well recently. Names like Dexter Fowler, Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury certainly can haunt a franchise for a while (don't blame me, blame At The Letters for putting the idea in my head heh). Big free agent deals always carry some amount significant risk, a conclusion I reached after my semester abroad studying the works of "No Duh". Who really knows but I like Springer's chances when compared to those guys particularly since his offensive game isn't reliant on speed, rather those broad range of skills I mentioned before. I wouldn't be surprised if he's a defensive zero halfway into this, but I'd be very surprised if his bat drops off in that same timeframe. Anyway I've been clamouring for this signing since November so I of course love the deal, and it's nice to see the man get his bag after the Astros did the whole service time manipulation thing (let's just all agree the Astros are awful in many, many ways).
Okay! So lets get greedy. What's next? Starting pitching, I think most would agree, is now the biggest area for improvement. Beyond Ryu (who don't forget hasn't been a model of durability over a six month season), you're hoping Robbie Ray doesn't walk the (empty) bleachers... Ross Stripling isn't another Dodger Stadium mirage, Nate Pearson's struggles were an injury related blip (I don't think you're getting 180 innings there anyway) and Tanner Roark is... well yeah if you're relying on Roark you could use some help.

So who's still out there? I want nothing to do with Bauer, for multiple reasons (talent and otherwise) that others here have already discussed. I'd be very much into Masahiro Tanaka (reports of mutual interest? Do. It.). He's a proven AL East guy, still extremely effective and stealing from the Yankees is always fun. If he's agreeable to a two/three year deal sign me up! Or rather, sign him up. I doubt the Blue Jays would find my 53 mph two-seamer very useful.

A Taijuan Walker reunion would also be a good move: somebody familiar with the organization and considerable upside if he can consistently stay on the mound (clearly his biggest obstacle). James Paxton is another upside play in much the same "please stay healthy vein", though his declining velocity in 2020 is pretty concerning (even if his strikeout rate seems unaffected). Still though. How about Jake Odorizzi? Not exciting but serviceable, plus the guy has been in so many Blue Jays rumours the past half decade it's just about time we just got the guy. Maybe a Mike Shoemaker reunion? You probably only get fifteen starts out of him (if you're lucky) but they'd likely be good. Jose Quintana would've been a nice pickup but he went to the Angels right when the Blue Jays were signing that outfielder guy. Rick Porcello is still out there? Eccch now we're near the bottom of the pint glass.

There's the trade route, of course. Everyone seems to think the Reds are selling everybody, though really all they've done so far is dump Raisel Iglesias. Luis Castillo is the jewel there, and jewels are expensive to acquire. The Reds might be going suddenly cheap (great planning, fellas) but giving Castillo away in a salary dump of somebody like Moustakas would be pretty gruesome, even in the cheapo NL Central. So expect it to happen before this even gets published (sigh). How about Sonny Gray? Maybe his struggles as a Yankee soured me on him somewhat, though that was really just the one season (2018) now that I check. Affordable contract also, and frankly not much of a step below Bauer career wise.

If you're still kicking around the NL, Kyle Hendricks would be a sneaky good move. He's essentially an elite Marco Estrada with a less straight fastball and absurd control. Personally I love those kind of guys, but I dunno. Maybe you can get Mike Mikolas if he's actually healthy? The Cardinals would have to eat some money there though... 17 million a year? Yikes. David Price? Yes please. Not sure if the Dodgers are eager to do that though (the Red Sox are eating half that salary, don't forget). Ah whatever I'm no good at this.

Picking up another actual MLB infielder would be a sharp idea also. Landing somebody like Kris Bryant or Nolan Arenado in a blockbuster would be darn exciting (I'm way less of a Trevor Story fan) but free agency still has some intriguing names. Marcus Semien is certainly worth more than ten cents a gander, especially if you think his 2019 was no fluke. I like the idea of having somebody like Semien around since Bo Bichette has a bad habit of getting hurt. Likewise Didi Gregorius would look terrific in this lineup: he isn't the same level of defender as Semien or Andrelton Simmons but his bat is definitely a step or two above and he's left-handed. That all depends if he's willing/capable of playing third (just ten professional innings there) but I like it the more I think about it, plus again he'd likely get a fair bit of time at shortstop anyway. Kolten Wong is another name people seem to like a lot, and while the glove is pretty fantastic I'm not ecstatic about the rest of the package. Or there's Tommy LaStella, who profiles as an average defender at best but his ability to make ultra-contact makes him an appealing target. He's limited to third or second though and really is more of an elite bench player than an everyday guy, but I'd be into it.

In conclusion... I don't know! Frankly I've already written way more about this than I planned so I'm gonna step aside now. It's good to be excited about this team potentially adding impact players at least, and I certainly think they ain't done yet. Have at it.