The Blue Jays offseason have been quiet to this point, but I have made my 2018-2019 Blue Jays Christmas wish list for the rest of the winter.
The Toronto Blue Jays have been a relatively quiet so far this offseason. There’s been one trade with Aledmys Diaz being shipped to the Houston Astros for Trent Thornton. Elvis Luciano and David Garner were added via the Rule 5 draft. Troy Tulowitzki was released, and prospects Jordan Romano and Travis Bergen were lost in the Rule 5 draft. Most recently, Eric Sogard was added on a minor league deal.
There are some moves I want to see happen as the offseason moves closer to the beginning of Spring Training. The following list is my Blue Jays Christmas wish list for the remainder of the offseason.
3. Sign a starter
There have been a ton of names that have been connected with the Blue Jays this offseason. The likes of Mike Fiers, Trevor Cahill, Kendall Graveman, Lance Lynn, and Garrett Richards were all mentioned as potential targets for the Blue Jays who have now gone elsewhere on short term, cheaper deals.
With a rotation currently projected to be Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Ryan Borucki, and Sean Reid-Foley as the top four in the rotation, plus the likes Sam Gaviglio, Thomas Pannone, and Trent Thornton listed on the depth chart as five through seven, there needs to be someone brought in to round out the group. Combine that with the fact it sure seems as if Stroman and Sanchez are being shopped, there needs to be a starter signed.
I wrote back at the beginning in the offseason that James Shields, strictly for his inning-eating ability would be my top choice to bring in to round out the rotation. Other candidates I’d be interested in are Derek Holland, Wade Miley, Drew Pomeranz (notice a pattern here?) to round out the rotation. Regardless, coming in at #3 on my list is a starting pitcher.
2. Kevin Pillar to be traded
You’re not going to trade Kevin Pillar for nothing and there isn’t an immediate rush to move him, but if the front office is truly committed to letting it ride with the kids in 2019, I am in favour of having a full-time outfield spot opened up. Kevin Pillar’s defense took a hit in 2018, though everyone’s did with the train wreck of an outfield due to alignment issues and more. Tim Leiper is no longer running the show in the outfield, so perhaps Pillar improves from his -2 DRS.
Randal Grichuk has proved himself to be nearly equal to Pillar in center field. If Pillar is moved, then Grichuk likely slides into centre field. It’s way to early to shoe-horn Teoscar Hernandez into a DH spot, so if Pillar is moved, Teoscar can play in either corner outfield spot with Billy McKinney in the other corner. However, the hope is Anthony Alford blows the door off the competition in the spring and makes the front office have no choice but to give him the keys up the middle.
Alford was very close to sticking with the Blue Jays in 2017 before breaking his hamate bone in Milwaukee. I’m in the camp of riding it out with him for the beginning of 2019, and that’s not possible without Kevin Pillar gone. However, I still think the front office is careful with Alford and make him earn his spot in the bigs which means Pillar will stay at least for the beginning of the season. Pillar being moved is still near the top of my wishlist.
1. Cody Allen
The Blue Jays bullpen as currently listed on BlueJays.com is as follows:
That doesn’t exactly breathe much confidence into me outside of Giles, Tepera, and maybe Danny Barnes. It wouldn’t surprise anyone at this point if John Axford is brought back exactly how he was in 2018, on a minor-league deal. There will probably be other MiLB deals for bullpen arms towards the end of January, but the longer Cody Allen remains on the free agent market, the more I think the Blue Jays try to bring him in.
Allen struggled in 67.0 innings with the Cleveland Indians a season ago. His strikeout numbers went down from 2017, his walks increased, the home run ball was an issue, and naturally his ERA and FIP rose considerably.
I see a ton of similarities between Cody Allen’s 2018 season and Seung-hwan Oh’s 2017:
- Allen – 10.75 K/9, 4.43 BB/9, 1.48 HR/9, 4.70 ERA, 4.56 FIP
- Oh – 8.19 K/9, 2.28 BB/9, 1.52 HR/9, 4.10 ERA, 4.44 FIP
Both experienced dips in K/9, rises in BB/9, more home runs surrendered, and considerably higher ERA’s and FIP’s compared to prior seasons. Coming off a down year and Oh lingering on the market a season ago, the Blue Jays snagged him on a 1+1 deal. Oh earned $1.8 million in 2018 with a team option for 2019 at $2.5 million. The option automatically vested with 70 appearances, which happened between Toronto and Colorado.
Now, Allen would definitely get more money than Oh did a season ago. The longer Cody Allen lingers, the more I believe this front office will get Allen on a 1+1 type deal with a higher salary than Oh. If Allen bounces back to his 2017 self, the Blue Jays could trade him at the deadline and get a package similar if not more than what they got for Oh. The team option for added control would help get more value for Allen. If he doesn’t bounce back and struggles instead, the team option is declined and Allen hits the market in 2019.
Cody Allen is at the top of my wish list for the remainder of the offseason. Comment below your Blue Jays themed wish list! Happy Holidays, Blue Jays fans!