So Now What?

Friday, January 05 2024 @ 06:06 PM EST

Contributed by: John Northey

The Jays are not winning the offseason at this stage, but can add parts to win the East still. Needs are a DH and a 3B (ideally DH is LH) and maybe a 4th OF if you don't trust Schneider/Biggio/kids to cover that. With the old thread well over 200 comments, time for a new one.

Sigh. So much for my Brantley idea (he retired). He looked like a really good fit but I guess he felt it was time to be with family instead. Such is life. He has made over $112 million in his ML career so he really doesn't need the money, and his stats are nowhere near what it'd take to get into the HOF, nor close to any milestones (344 hits from 2000, 71 HR from 200). He has a ring (didn't play in the 22 WS but he got a ring anyways). So really nothing left to play for.

So now what? 119 wRC+ projected (via Steamer - easy to sort and a decent system) for both Jorge Soler (RH) and Joc Pederson (LH) - they seem the best of the cheap options. Others projected at 110+ wRC+ are Rhys Hoskins (RH), Austin Meadows (LH), Jesse Winker (LH), and Daniel Vogelbach (LH). All of those guys are projected to hit better than Bellinger (108 wRC+ projection), J.D. Martinez (106), Brandon Belt (106), Teoscar Hernández (106), Justin Turner (105), Ji Man Choi (105 - always seemed a Jay killer to me for some reason), and Matt Chapman (103).

So depending on contract demands and what the Jays want out of the guy for flexibility Pederson is probably the best of what is left - bats left so can platoon with whoever isn't catching, can go into LF/RF in an emergency (horrid stats out there, but he could go out there - you'll find most of these guys have horrid defensive stats). Most of these guys had bad 2023's but high peaks before that so it'd depend on what the teams scouts say about them - is there life in those bats or not. Lets look closer at the LH bats (which I figure the Jays want most)

I think that covers it for free agent hitters. For trade shots the market is very limited. Oakland could easily trade Ryan Noda (he won't be there anymore by the time they move to Vegas I suspect), a LH bat who plays 1B, projected at 108 wRC+ after a 123 ML debut. His DRS at 1B was 0, he also had 17 innings in LF/RF with a 0 for what that's worth. If the Jays can't get anyone else he'd be worth trading for in mid-April if in house options flop (Horwitz projected at 113 wRC+).

Given Horwitz is projected at 113, depending on if the Jays systems see him the same, I'd not touch any hitter below a 110 projection unless whatever the Jays use says they'll do better. I'd rank them Meadows (if his anxiety allows him to play here), Pederson (very good platoon guy), Winker (health issue). If Bellinger can be signed at a reasonable price then grab him (no way on earth he should be in CF with Varsho & KK here) and put him in RF moving Springer to DH/LF/RF letting all 4 OF have time off as needed and always having a killer defense out there.

3B seems to be either in house (IKF/Biggio/Espinal) or finding a way to get Chapman to give up on $150 million and move to a more reasonable price ($100-125 mil over 4 or 5 lets say). I didn't go over the 3B options as free agents are down to Chapman, Urshela, Donaldson, and pure crap it seems (Donaldson could be put into the crap pile now). Urshela is not really better than IKF so why bother imo. No matter how I juggle the stats I just don't see a solid option outside of Chapman on the market (trade or free agency). No, Ramirez is not being traded, and the Jays won't take on $333 mil to get Machado. The farm kids appear to be not seen as acceptable on defense at 3B as Orelvis (projected 87 wRC+) was mainly playing 2B by the end of 2023, Barger RF (projected 96 wRC+), Damiano Palmegiani looks interesting, but is projected at an 88 wRC+, Rafael Lantigua was playing a lot in LF instead by the end, projected 94. Others are too far down to be up for April/May/June imo. So I don't see any kids getting shots in April, they'll need to beat down the door. I could easily see Chapman resigned if his demands come down a bit as he would fit the defense first and always POV the Jays seem stuck on right now otherwise IKF will be the 3B for opening day.