The work stoppage, the MLB’s first due to workforce issues in more than a quarter of a century, threatens spring and opening day training plans on March 31. Toronto and elsewhere.
The Blue Jays have opened their portfolios in recent weeks to consolidate their starting rotation. The team have also learned that two star players – Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray and MVP nominee Marcus Semien – will not be returning.The club will look at free agency and exchange options to improve, but future movements will have to wait until there is a peace of work. Here’s a look at where the Blue Jays are now and where things could go from here:
There will be a new ace next year after the departure of Ray, who signed a long-term deal with the Seattle Mariners after a 13-7 season with a 2.84 best earned-run average in the American League. and 248 best strikeouts in MLB.
Kevin Gausman appears to be the favorite for best starter position in a rotation that includes Jose Berrios, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Alek Manoah.
Gausman signed a five-year, US $ 110 million contract weeks after Berrios signed his own lucrative long-term extension.
There’s room to add at least one more starter after reliable southpaw Steven Matz signed with the St. Louis Cardinals. Toronto could look inside by hitting Ross Stripling for fifth place or giving the oft-injured fireballer Nate Pearson another shot in the rotation.
Need for infield
The Blue Jays have been creative with their approach on the pitch in recent seasons and this technique may be needed again.
Semien’s free agency departure leaves a big hole at second base. However, several quality free agents remain in play and the infield may be an area where general manager Ross Atkins is looking to add via trade.
If Cavan Biggio can bounce back from an injury-ridden campaign, his versatility – and ability to play for second or third – would give the Blue Jays some flexibility.
The Blue Jays haven’t been afraid to cross barriers since they completed a rebuilding process a few years ago.
Ryu was a big signing in December 2019 and Toronto caused a stir last offseason when it landed George Springer.
The team is also not afraid to use its forward-looking capital as needed. Berrios was acquired at the last deadline for youngsters Austin Martin and Simeon Woods-Richardson.
Several prospects are progressing well in the system and could give options to Atkins before or during the ’22 campaign.
Take the next step
The Blue Jays made a late push into the 2021 campaign, but were eliminated from the playoffs on the final day of the regular season.
With Springer, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Teoscar Hernandez serving as anchors for an attack with plenty of pop, Toronto should have no trouble scoring points next season.
The signing of free agent Yimi Garcia gives depth to a reliever box that looks solid with Tim Mayza and closest Jordan Romano at the back.
There are still plenty of needs to be met, but the future looks bright for a team looking to take the next step after a 91-win campaign.
Don’t search MLB.com for breaking news and analysis.
A note on the website says content will be limited until a new collective agreement is reached. Images of current players have also been removed.