Although the MLB off-season has ground to a halt under the weight of a lockout that came into effect on Tuesday, that doesn’t mean that work is done for front offices.
The current environment will curb transactions for the time but teams — including the Toronto Blue Jays — will continue to plan out the possible courses they will take to improve their competitive chances when an agreement is reached. In Toronto’s case, despite signing Kevin Gausman and Yimi Garcia, there are both clear holes remaining on the roster, and resources to put against filling them.
The conceivable paths the Blue Jays could take to finish off their roster are numerous beyond measure, and there is no way to predict exactly what they’ll do. That said, we thought it would be a fun exercise to flesh out a couple of the avenues available to the team with three possible plans — each putting an emphasis on a different area of need (SP, RP, 2B/3B), but addressing all three.
Before we lay them out, the rules are fourfold:
1. The Blue Jays won’t add more than $25 million dollars to the payroll. There is an endless debate to be had about what the team could conceivably spend, but this represents a reasonable cap on what they might add to the current cost of the roster.
2. Only one trade is allowed. In theory it’s easy to add a number of low-cost players if you’re willing to empty out the farm system, but the Blue Jays are unlikely to do that — especially after the José Berríos trade in July. That doesn’t mean a major trade is off the table — it isn’t — but more than one is a stretch.
3. All players traded for must be either rumoured to be available, or have limited team control and reside on teams unlikely to compete in 2022.
4. Free agent contracts, where possible, will be based on an average of FanGraphs and MLBTradeRumors contract projections. Neither is perfect, but both averaged together helps ground contract proposals in something concrete.
With all the rules and regulations out of the way, let’s get to the fun part.
Plan A: Focus on the infield
Blue Jays trade 3B/SS Jordan Groshans, 3B/SS Kevin Smith, and RHP Trent Palmer to the Oakland Athletics for 3B Matt Chapman
Blue Jays sign Danny Duffy to a one-year, $12-million contract
Blue Jays sign Sean Doolittle to a one-year $2.5-million contract