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Barring a trade, don’t expect any free agents hitters this winter

While the Blue Jays are expected to look at the pitching market this winter, I don’t think they’ll be very active in adding to their lineup, if at all.

Over the last couple of seasons, September baseball really hasn’t been all that enjoyable in Toronto. After having been treated to back to back postseason appearances in 2015-16, it’s not that easy to stay engaged when your team is more than 30 games behind the division leaders.

However, this season we got to see the start of a rebuild, which meant that the Blue Jays started to call up some talented youngsters and give them their first taste of the big leagues. We witnessed Lourdes Gurriel Jr. go on a historic streak of multi-hit games, Ryan Borucki make a significant impression in the starting rotation, and others like Danny Jansen make strong debuts in their first few weeks of action. There are more on the way in the next couple of seasons as well, as the youth movement is fully underway in Toronto.

On the offensive side of things the Blue Jays are actually pretty well set up, at least in terms of their short term expectations. That said, they may choose/try to trade more veterans this winter such as Yangervis Solarte, Russell Martin, Kevin Pillar, Justin Smoak, Kendrys Morales, and even Troy Tulowitzki, each with their own set of variables regarding how difficult that may be. It’s highly unlikely that Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro can move all five players, but even if they did trade all six players, the lineup wouldn’t change that drastically.

Realistically the Blue Jays are probably looking at rolling out an outfield of Randal Grichuk, Billy McKinney, Teoscar Hernandez (they’re unlikely to give up on him out there just yet), and possibly Pillar if they don’t move him this offseason. There are others who could work into the discussion as well such as Anthony Alford, Dwight Smith Jr., or Jonathan Davis, and it’s also possible that Brandon Drury spends significant time in the outfield too. It may not be an All-Star calibre depth chart, but it’s pretty lengthy.

Moving on to the infield, and there’s a pretty notable glut of options there as well (we’ve even looked at it specifically here at Jays Journal). Including the aforementioned Solarte, Smoak, Tulowitzki, and Drury, which could constitute a full infield on it’s own if everyone were healthy, whomever is managing the Blue Jays next season won’t be lacking for options. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will eventually take over at third base, Gurriel Jr is expected to start at one of shortstop or second base, and there are still others like Devon Travis, Aledmys Diaz, Rowdy Tellez, Richard Urena, and more. If anything the Blue Jays are going to have to move a couple of infielders.

The catching situation is also well documented, and even if the Blue Jays decide to move on and/or find a decent trade for Martin, they’ve still got Jansen, Reese McGuire, and even Luke Maile if they keep him around. And as far as DH is concerned, Morales is expected to return next season at this stage, but there are definitely plenty of others to rotate through if they do find a taker for the charismatic Cuban.

Add it all up and there’s really no reason for Shapiro and Atkins to be looking to add on offence this winter, unless of course they are aiming to turn some of their depth into a greater individual piece. That’s going to be difficult to do, especially with an eye on the long term future, and I’m willing to bet that’s a chess move for later in the rebuild anyway. More likely the front office will be focused on adding some pitching, both to the starting rotation and the bullpen, and also with an eye on short, and long term pieces to the equation.

Next: What type of return could Kevin Pillar yield in a trade?

So while it’s fun to dream about the Blue Jays opening their wallets (which they could realistically do), I don’t think we can expect them to be chasing Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, or, well, any hitter, really.

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