Free agent preview: Toronto Blue Jays

2012 was supposed to be a step forward for the Blue Jays…instead, it was more of the same. Jose Bautista dealt with ineffectiveness and injury all season, crippling the Toronto offense. The Blue Jays pitching staff apparently came into contact with plutonium, with the team using 12 starters this season. Only three of those 12 pitched started more than 20 games. So yeah, saying that 2012 didn't go according to plans for the Blue Jays may be an understatement, and Alex Anthopolous has his work cut out for him this offseason.

Needs
The team needs a second baseman to replace the departing Kelly Johnson. The good news is that they now have *three* shortstops, one of whom will probably end up switching to the other side of the diamond. The team will also probably be hunting for a first baseman to replace Adam Lind, who has not lived up to the expectations that a fantastic 2009 season set for him. Aside from that, the club may or may not be looking for help on the mound. They need an ace, but their payroll situation isn't overly fluid despite an ownership group that is flooded with money.

Possible Options
I believe that the Blue Jays will sacrifice offense for defense in the middle infield, shifting Mike Aviles to second base to replace Johnson and starting either Yunel Escobar (more on him in a bit) or Adeiny Hechavarria at short. Edwin Encarnacion will be starting at the team at either first base or DH, and who starts at the other position is up in the air, but it probably won't be Lind. The team had moderate success in 2007 with Frank Thomas DHing, and a player of that mold might be the type of player the Jays are looking for…a banged up Travis Hafner, perhaps? Zack Greinke would be a tremendous fit for this team at the top of their rotation in front of Brandon Morrow, Ricky Romero, JA Happ, and Henderson Alvarez, but as I mentioned in the last paragraph, I don't think Rogers is going to be willing to pony up the necessary cash to bring him in. Anibal Sanchez has been mentioned as a fit, but I don't see it. It'll probably be Greinke or bust for Toronto, but I can see the team rolling the dice with veteran options, like the PED suspended Bartolo Colon, Kevin Millwood, or token Canadian (and perennially injured) Erik Bedard.

Trade Options
This is where the Blue Jays have some toys to play with. After claiming former defensive-minded Angels backup Bobby Wilson on waivers (to go along with former defensive-minded Angels backup Jeff Mathis), the Blue Jays now have four catchers on their 40-man roster, with last year's starter JP Arencibia and top prospect Travis d'Arnaud joining the pair of former Angels. I think Arencibia's days in Toronto are numbered, especially with a free agent catching market that has maybe three or four every day starters in it. There's also Yunel Escobar, who the organization has tired of after the eyeblack incident and his diminishing on-field play. But after his stint in Toronto, the Blue Jays might end up getting even less for Escobar than the Braves did when they traded the shortstop north of the border in 2010. The aforementioned Adam Lind also seems like a guy that's going to get moved after a third straight season worth half a win or less in value. 

Trade Targets
The Blue Jays are in an odd position. They're in a win now position, but they have a pretty good farm system that is still churning out talent. They don't really have any desperate organizational needs. Looking for the best deals they can get for anything they're trading would probably be wise, and they'd probably end up buying low on anyone they'd acquire. It's going to be an interesting offseason for Toronto, just because of the position their team is in right now. They're not in a position to go all-in, and they're not in a position to blow it all up quite yet. That might be the worst place for your team to be, especially in the AL East.

Joe Lucia

About Joe Lucia

Joe is the managing editor of The Outside Corner and an associate editor at Awful Announcing. He lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and is smack dab in the middle of some of the best (and worst) sports fans in the country.

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