For the Toronto Blue Jays, their penchant response to talks of what type of team they are going to be in 2020 have been centralized around building up their core, attempting to become a fringe competitor, but realizing that 2021 or even 2022 may be more in the cards. But with Hyun-Jin Ryu having just signed on for the next four seasons as the team’s ace, can that window be considered to be relevant anymore?
Even with the addition of Ryu, this team is still a mess in terms of determining what they truly are. Built upon pipedream potential and deep bloodlines that run back into the heyday of the sport of baseball, the league’s lone team situated north of the border looks to be fighting itself to compete.
Committing both to a core of young players and signing proven and high-priced veterans seem to be a bit counter-intuitive, but Toronto needs to try something in an attempt to expedite their window of competition.
With their young core of Cavan Biggio, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Bo Bichette, and others, already on the major league level and contributing to the team in a big way, Toronto understands that their current roster construction will not be able to keep their head above water with how competitive the American League East is.
The countdown for all of the mentioned players has already begun, as the running clock that is monitoring their playing time is already inching towards needing to pay each of these players big-time money through arbitration, or even worse, as free agents. Guerrero Jr. and Bichette look to be the two biggest presences on this roster, and their contracts will eventually match that kind of promise.
Outside of this youthful core, the roster is not on the level normally seen in a competitor.
The infield, from third to catcher, reads Guerrero Jr. (3B), Bichette (SS), Biggio (2B), Rowdy Tellez (1B), and Danny Jensen (C). Tellez, who just completed his first season as the big league level, is on pace with the rest of the infield in terms of service time and age, although he is the least talked about member of the current starting infield.
A mix of Brandon Drury, Richard Urena, and Reese McGuire make up the team’s current depth for their infield, which needs a bunch of work. Drury is a proven veteran, but both Urena and McGuire are lacking the necessary experience to be counted on in regular situations moving forward, paving the way for a depth signing or two that should come at some point this winter still.
In the outfield, Gurriel Jr., Teoscar Hernandez, and Randal Grichuk are the three penciled-in starters for 2020, with former Houston Astros prospect Derek Fisher, well-traveled Billy McKinney, Anthony Alford, and Jonathan Davis as depth behind the three starters. Fisher and McKinney jump off the page the most of the four backups, but both Alford and Davis have great chances to offer this team some sort of production, whether it be on the major or minor league level(s).
Closer Ken Giles has been a somewhat constant in trade talks dating back to this past season’s trade deadline, and while he still remains north of the border, his time with the Blue Jays should not be long. A solid bullpen option that could easily be attained by a contending team, Giles has had a rough patch ever since he was sent over from the Astros after blowing up after blowing a save.
Outside of Giles, veterans Anthony Bass and Wilmer Font are the two experience arms in the ‘pen, and they should be looked to in all different situations for the team. While they do not offer a ton of value on the trade market, they are solid pieces for a team that is looking to evaluate their next steps.
The rotation looks to be a bit clearer now after their flurry of moves this offseason, as they signed Ryu and Tanner Roark, and acquired Chase Anderson from the Milwaukee Brewers in return for first base prospect Chad Spanberger. While Ryu will become this team’s ace moving forward, Roark and Anderson are both solid depth pieces, and while a bit on the older side of 30, are good options for young pitchers to obtain valuable information from to try and help improve this team’s rotation down the road.
All in all, the Blue Jays have tried to turn this team around a bit this offseason, and the jury still remains out on if that actually happened. While Ryu is the team’s biggest splash up to this point, depth additions like Roark and Ryu are solid too, but not something that is going to help push this team farther up in the standings.
Toronto is in a tough spot as a franchise, as they have the right pieces in the right spots on their roster, but facing an uphill battle in their division and league to compete, combined with the team being used to not competing, makes any sort of positive moves hard to measure right away.
Having one of the league’s best young positional player cores is a great positive, but their pitching still remains a question moving forward. A balance between wanting to win now and understanding what it takes to win on the current timeline is going to need to be understood before the season begins, otherwise, the 2020 season can already be considered a loss for this franchise.