The Toronto Blue Jays, who are leaving their first playoff berth since 2016, have already been linked to a number of high-impact players, such as Trevor Bauer, Francisco Lindor and George Springer.
Until some of these stars sign or change teams, the Blue Jays discussion will be dominated by several players we know are now available. This is an intuitive way to think about the off-season, especially for the fan base, which has been fully looking to the future in recent years. However, attachment to this class of free agents lacks significant consideration of how this team will approach the off-season. Specifically, who will be available next year.
While it seems that we will be blindfolded after the 2021 season, there is no doubt that the transactions that the Blue Jays will carry out in the coming months will be colored by opportunities that will exist a year later. This is especially true for a club that plans to compete in 2021, but does not place special emphasis on that year amid what they hope is a lengthy competitive window.
The suggestion that next year’s free agents can influence what the Blue Jays are doing this year sounds like it means they won’t make moves now. However, the situation could go both ways. If there is a group of positions where impact players will not be available after 2021, there is more motivation to make a move right away.
To better understand how the Blue Jays will maneuver in the off-season, it pays to look at who will be vacant after 2021 in positions the club is considering for significant improvements.
Headliners 2020 free agents: Marcus Semien, Andrelton Simmons, Didi Gregorius, Ha-Seong Kim
Headliners 2021 free agents: Javier Baez, Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager, Trevor Story
How will it affect the 2020 off-season: This is an aspect of the 2021 free agent class that has received the most ink in recent years. It is extremely rare for the land of elite shortstops in their prime numbers to be available at once. Not only that, but it probably won’t be just a game of music chairs, as the Cleveland Indians and Colorado Rockies may not be able to afford the agreements these players will control, the Chicago Cubs seem to be entering a transition phase and the Houston Astros have rarely spent large amounts. Of all the teams losing a stellar shortstop, only the Los Angeles Dodgers look like a safe bet on the signature of one of these players.
This creates a significant opportunity for the Blue Jays to get in if the idea of relocating Bo Bichette out of position is acceptable to them. As a result, the signing of a free agent shortstop seems less likely this year than it would have been without this famous 2021 class. Of course, they could have decided to enter the market by trading with and expanding with Lindor or Baez. This step would be costly, and it’s a good idea to make up for the situation and open a checkbook after next season.
Headliners 2020 free agents: George Springer, Jackie Bradley Jr., Jake Marisnick
Headliners 2021 free agents: Starling Marte, Delino DeShields Jr.
How will it affect the off-season 2020: Although this year’s class of players in the field is relatively insignificant, next year is significantly worse. Marte will be 33 years old at the start of 2022, and his defensive metrics have been mixed in recent years. DeShields Jr. is a player without a bench on the bench and there is not much more in class. Odubel Herrera and Ender Inciarte could shake if their club opportunities are not used, but in this scenario they are not based on exciting 2021 campaigns.
If Blue Jays doesn’t see Randal Grichuk as a long-term solution in the middle of the field, this off-season would be the time to deal with it, especially since Austin Martin is the only prospect in the organization that seems to be able to take it on. Martin’s primary position is still under discussion and it is not clear how much time he will need in the smaller leagues, given that he has not reached a professional. There are many reasons why the Blue Jays have already been researched by Springer and Bradley Jr., but one of them is certainly the lack of available midfield talent on the horizon.
Headliners 2020 free agents: Trevor Bauer, Masahiro Tanaka, Jake Odorizzi, Jose Quintana, James Paxton, Corey Kluber
Headers 2021 free players: Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw, Lance Lynn, Lance McCullers Jr., Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, Kevin Gausman
How will it affect the 2020 off-season: On paper from these groups, the 2021 class is much better, and the Blue Jays might not want to get into too many contracts to stop them from biting into an apple. In practice, it is not that simple.
Many of the 2021 free agents listed here are unlikely to be available to Toronto. Guys like Greinke and Verlander can even retire depending on their health. Kershaw is a Dodgers franchise legend who is likely to return to Los Angeles. Scherzer will be an interesting case, but in 2020 you can’t let go of something in the hope that there is one player available – especially a pitcher whose health is by definition unstable.
The Blue Jays have to look at the group as a whole and there is a lot of uncertainty. Ideally for Toronto, one of these legendary hurlers could be Jon Lester for his young core player position, and if the band improved to the point where it looked like a possible World Series 2022 favorite, they were likely to find money for veterans. ace.
You can’t have too many starting fields and the Blue Jays don’t even have enough, so it seems unlikely that they would add another starter without hesitation this season, no matter who descends.
Headliners 2020 free agents: Justin Turner, Tommy La Stella, DJ LeMahieu, Ha-Seong Kim
Headliners 2021 free agents: Kris Bryant, Nolan Arenado (if he withdraws from five years and $ 164 million), Maikel Franco
How will it affect the off-season 2020: Neither of these groups is without warts. Bryant could be in line with a huge contract, but he would have to bounce back significantly from the troubling 2020 years. far from certain.
Expecting Bryant to bounce back and decide to sign with the Blue Jays is not a viable strategy, which means the club is motivated to go after someone who can now handle the position. The big wild card in the near future is Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who apparently intends to settle down again.
More than a little skepticism is needed in this regard, but Guerrero Jr. would be more valuable – and would create more roster flexibility for the entire team – if he could return to third place. This option could keep Blue Jays out of season, but if so, finding an upgrade at this point next year would be difficult.