When Corey Seager grounded out to Jose Altuve on November 1st, the 2017 MLB season officially ended. The final out brought delirium to Houston fans, but also brought happiness to fans of 28 other teams (sorry Dodger fans), because suddenly baseball’s offseason was upon us. Every franchise was now tied for first again.
Normally the offseason is loaded with speculation and predictions, often-times outlandish. The past few weeks have proven to be no exception. Rumours are flying left, right, and centre involving what seems to be over half the players in the league. The Blue Jays are in for an interesting few months as they try to do the impossible – stay in contention with an aging core, while at the same time bridge the gap to the next wave of elite prospects .
So how can they do that? It’s easy to say things like “trade for Stanton” and “sign Jake Arrieta“, but those things are clearly easier said than done.
However, with Toronto continuing to pack in the fans and operating in a massive market, nothing should be deemed impossible. With that said, may I present 500 Level Fan’s “completely unlikely yet not fully ridiculous” Dream Offseason plan for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Move 1 – Sign Chris Iannetta
Backup catcher has been a black hole in Toronto for a few years now. It wasn’t as much of a concern the last few seasons when Russell Martin was catching 130+ games a year, but injuries limited Martin to just 91 games last year, only 83 of which were behind the plate. The backup brigade of Montero, Saltalamacchia, Lopez, Maile, and Ohlman were worse than bad and prospect Dan Jansen is still a year or two away.
The answer? Why not Chris Iannetta? He has been linked to the Jays for a number of years now, and proved last year that he still has some pop in his bat (17 HR, .865 OPS) and some prowess defensively (+2 defensive runs saved, 24% caught stealing). Plus he’ll be 35 this year so no longer should demand a ton of playing time, he can slot in an DH if need be, and at $1.5 million last year he is relatively cheap.
Likelihood of happening: I thought this was happening in each of the last four winters. It never has. So….40%.
Move 2 – Sign Tony Watson
Below are the ERA’s for each of Toronto’s LH relievers in 2017:
Aaron Loup – 3.75
Matt Dermody – 4.43
Tim Mayza – 6.88
Jeff Beliveau – 7.47
J.P. Howell – 7.36
Loup was the best of the bunch and he is the rare lefty who can’t retire left-handed batters. That is….not good.
After several incredible years in a row, Tony Watson took a step back last season, but still finished the year with a 3.38 ERA split between Pittsburgh and LA. Better yet, LHB posted a .691 OPS against him, better than Loup’s .721. He would be a nice fit.
Likelihood of Happening: The market for relievers is always inflated so while he would be a great fit I can’t see the Jays getting into a bidding war for his services. 35%.
Move 3 – Sign Shohei Otani
This is easy to fit in the “keep dreaming” category, and I know there are issues with MLBPA trying to hold up his posting, but just hear me out.
Every single MLB team would love to have Otani in its lineup. He can hit. He can pitch. He is a legitimate dual threat. But a lot of MLB teams are…how to put this….cowardly. The thought of allowing a pitcher to slot in at DH on his off days would be a non-starter.
But Toronto, with their “high-performance” team and supposed devotion to recovery and health, could be a different story. He would be a legitimate number two starter behind Stroman, and could suit up as DH at least two of the four days he doesn’t pitch (not to mention a nice bat off the bench late in games).
NL teams can’t offer the duality as well as AL teams. Toronto is a diverse city that will give him a piece of home he craves. Why not?
Likelihood of Happening: Makes too much sense to happen. Good things like this rarely happen to Jays fans…. 2%
Move 4 – Trade Kendrys Morales
It goes without saying that one of the big flaws in the plan to sign Otani and DH him several times a week is that the Jays already have a DH. Unless, that is, they trade him.
Look, I get it. Trading Morales won’t be easy. He’s old. He’s slow. He can’t play defense. But that’s focusing on what he can’t do. Let’s talk about what he can do. He can still hit, despite everybody labeling him a free agent bust. Morales popped 28 HR with a .753 OPS last year – not elite, but definitely not bad.
A quick glance around the American League shows three teams – three would be contenders mind you – that had awful DH production last year: the Angels (24 HR, ..677 OPS), Twins (17 HR, .711 OPS), and Rangers (15 HR, .686 OPS). With Pujols on board adding Morales doesn’t make a lot of sense for LA, and I’m not sure he really fits with Minnesota. But what’s wrong with Texas? They made the postseason in 2015 and 2016 and were in the Wild Card race for a spell last year. More DH production would suit them.
In return, Toronto should have the balls to ask for Jurickson Profar. Despite being anointed the next big thing since 2011 Profar is still only 24, is very versatile, and his value has never been lower. Toronto could use him in LF, RF, or even as insurance for Tulo and Travis in the middle infield. They would have to offer more than just Morales (bullpen depth?) and maybe eat some salary, but it would be a sweet deal.
Likelihood of Happening: You never know, but I think we’re stuck with him. 4%
Move 5 – Trade Kevin Pillar
I lobbied for this in a previous post. I know it would be a very unpopular move, but Pillar’s value will never be higher. He is featured on highlight shows seemingly nightly and is becoming known across the league – not only Toronto – as Superman.
Toronto should reach out to the Marlins and offer up Pillar. Sure Stanton would be nice, but I think Christian Yelich would be a much better fit. He’ll only be 26 next season, he offers passable defense, and is a solid bat (.807 OPS). Plus he’s under team control through 2021 with about $42-million owing on his deal. He would give the Jays a nice looking outfield with himself, Teoscar Hernandez, Anthony Alford, Zeke, and possibly Profar.
Pillar would offer the Marlins huge money savings (arbitration eligible, coming off a $550,000 salary in 2017, and not FA eligible until 2021). Plus, on a fully rebuilding team, he would still give the fans a reason to come to the park. You never know when the next Superman catch will happen.
Likelihood of Happening: A man can dream. 1%
Final Verdict: Each of the above moves makes at least a little bit of sense, both on and off the field. Make all of them and the Jays would be set up for contention in 2018 and possibly beyond, regardless of what happens with Donaldson. Make one or two of them, 2018 is still in play.
What do you think?