With news a little slow on the Baltimore Orioles front, I decided to take a look at the other teams in the AL East and how their offseasons have gone so far. After starting this mini series yesterday with the New York Yankees, it's time to continue with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Entering 2022 with a lot of hype, the Toronto Blue Jays struggled with consistency throughout the season, finishing in second in the AL East with a 92-70 record. They made the playoffs and hosted the Wild Card Round series against the Seattle Mariners, but lost both of the games played, ending their season.
AL East Offseason in Review: Toronto Blue Jays
The top needs the Blue Jays needed entering the offseason were at least one, but preferably more, lefty outfielders, a mid rotation starter, and a depth starting pitcher. With Spring Training roughly a month away, let's see how they've done with those goals.
- Ross Stripling-signed with San Francisco Giants
- Tayler Saucedo-claimed off waivers by New York Mets
- Teoscar Hernandez-traded to Seattle Mariners
- Lourdes Gurriel Jr, Gabriel Moreno-traded to Arizona Diamondbacks
- Anthony Kay-claimed off waivers by Chicago Cubs
- David Phelps-free agent
- Jackie Bradley Jr-free agent
- Bradley Zimmer-signed MiLB deal with Los Angeles Dodgers
- Raimel Tapia-free agent
- Foster Griffin-free agent
While not as significant of a talent drain as the Yankees, the Blue Jays lost some pieces, the most notable being Gurriel, Hernandez, and Moreno. As things stand on January 11, the Blue Jays have a full 40-man roster, the majority of which is of course pitching.
In the Hernandez trade, the Blue Jays got back lefty pitching prospect Adam Macko, who isn't quite major league ready after spending 2022 at the Single A Level. They also got Erik Swanson, who will likely help their bullpen. This offseason is his first arbitration year, he's scheduled to hit free agency after the 2025 season.
The Blue Jays acquired Daulton Varsho from the D-Backs in exchange for Gurriel and Moreno. Varsho is a dual catcher/outfielder, and is a lefty bat, which is something the Blue Jays needed in the outfield. Also a lefty bat in the outfield is Kevin Kiermaier, who Toronto signed for one year and $9 million, which is a little steep in my opinion, but it's his contract, nevertheless.
Adding a pitcher to the rotation to replace Stripling, the Blue Jays signed a three year, $63 million deal with Chris Bassitt, giving them a rotation of Jose Berrios, Kevin Gausman, Alek Manoah, Yusei Kikuchi, and Bassitt, in no particular order.
Wrapping up their offseason to date, the Blue Jays brought in first baseman Brandon Belt to partner with Vladimir Guerrero Jr on the right side of the infield. That seemingly rounds out the infield, with Bo Bichette, Matt Chapman, and Santiago Espinal as the other starters.
The Blue Jays were looking for at least one starting pitcher, lefty outfield bats, and potentially re-inforcements in the bullpen. The starting pitcher equation was solved with Chris Bassitt and whenever Hyun-Jin Ryu returns from Tommy John Surgery. The outfield was retooled with acquisitions of Varsho and Kiermaier, and Swanson stands as the one addition to the bullpen.
So, yes, the Toronto Blue Jays did accomplish their goals this offseason. But there could still be work to be done, particularly on the bullpen front, with about a month until pitchers and catchers are set to report to Spring Training.