Blue Jays free agent moves build on 2020 trade deadline and ensure AL East respectability

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The Blue Jays silent but efficient The 2020 trade deadline helped them end the year above 0.500 and a playoff berth.

None of their moves were flashy – the most successful were the deals for Robbie Ray and Taijuan Walker – but they demonstrated the front office view that inactivity was unacceptable for a roster with an array of stars. budding. Prior to the campaign, the club had signed Cy Young runner-up Hyun Jin Ryu for a four-year contract.

Toronto’s additions of outfielder George Springer, starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood and closer Kirby Yates this week are extensions of the team’s aggressive mindset. There are rumblings of interest among righties Trevor Bauer and Jake odorizzi.

As has been the case so often with the Blue Jays in their history, the strength of the AL East threatens to plunge them into a frustrating cycle of mediocrity. These trades keep the playoffs in play regardless of the highs achieved by division rivals. They also ease the pressure on Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Cavan Biggio to wear them in 2021 with career years.

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Springer, imported for six years and $ 150 million, is expected to give a significant boost to already dangerous programming. Toronto’s command now includes eight hitters who last year posted over 100 OPS +, the benchmark for being the league’s plate average. Springer will be the only one of those players over 30.

Player 2020 OPS +
Teoscar Hernandez 146
George springer 140
Rowdy Tellez 139
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. 138
Bo Bichette 127
Cavan Biggio 122
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 115
Randal Grichuk 114

The Blue Jays’ ninth-best hitter by 2020 OPS + is Danny Jansen, a 25-year-old wide receiver with enough power and discipline to enjoy a breakout year with his bat. He only hit .183 but walked at an elite pace and would have easily pitched double-digit homers for the second year in a row had the season not been shortened.

Yates could deliver what Toronto’s survey pen has largely lacked, although he has to prove that his horror show last season (12.46 ERA after a 1.19 ERA in 2019) was an aberration. His one-year, $ 5.5 million contract is a minimal burden considering his advantage.

Toronto’s starting rotation could be its downfall, but re-signing Ray and Ross Stripling, and adding Chatwood on a $ 3 million deal, are reasonable steps to concoct something decent behind Ryu. Ray rediscovered his mid-rotation arsenal after the Blue Jays traded for him on the deadline, posting a 4.79 ERA in 20 2/3 innings. At 29, he still has the potential to improve on those numbers and move closer to his sub 4.00 ERA of 2017 and 2018. While Stripling fell in 2020, his 3.77 ERA career holds a similar promise. of a rebound. Chatwood, meanwhile, has no semblance of command, but has been effective at times in his shaky nine-year job in the MLB.

Tanner Roark was signed alongside Ryu ahead of the 2020 campaign to be a competent rotational complement. It was rather a disaster (6.80 ERA). Maybe he’ll be a pleasant surprise during his year of walking.

After Springer’s signing, the Blue Jays don’t need five Roy Halladays in their rotation to cause trouble in the AL’s playoff image. They simply require foundational skills and an ongoing organizational commitment to be buyers when opportunities arise.

More chances to improve are sitting in front of them. After securing a fun 2021 with their flurry of activity this week, they can now take their expectations to another level ahead of spring training.



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