The 2023 World Series is officially over and the MLB offseason has begun, so here we will focus on the Toronto Blue Jays, who have plenty of questions in the offseason.
To quickly review the Blue Jays’ 2023 season, they finished 89-73, good for third in the American League East division. This record was good enough to clinch the third and final Wild-Card spot.
The Blue Jays were matched up with the Minnesota Twins in the Wild-Card round, but were quickly swept 2-0 and managed to score just one run over the best-of-three series.
Going into the offseason, it will only get tougher for Toronto as several of their best players are expected to leave.
Toronto has plenty of decisions to make this offseason with six players set to test free agency. This includes Brandon Belt, Matt Chapman, Jordan Hicks, Kevin Kiermaier, Whit Merrifield, and Hyun Jin Ryu.
Simply put, unless the Blue Jays make some great offers, it seems unlikely that the majority of these players will return to play in Toronto.
Most notably, Chapman is already expected to decline the Blue Jays’ qualifying offer and because of his elite defense that earned him a Gold Glove, he is likely going to get a long term deal with another team.
Kiermaier is coming off one of his best seasons and he is expected to sign a multiple year deal with another team, especially with how good he is on defense.
Both Hicks and Merrifield are also going to generate plenty of interest this offseason with Merrifield being a three-time All-Star and Hicks being a reliable bullpen option.
With most of the Blue Jays’ players going to free agency expected to leave, there are plenty of players that could be targeted to replace them. Just a few of these players include Tim Anderson, Cody Bellinger, Adam Duvall, Rhys Hoskins, and Jorge Soler.
Any of these guys would be solid replacements and could potentially fill in at multiple positions. Some, like Bellinger, Hoskins, and Soler, have All-Star talent.
Another option Toronto needs to consider would be to replace the players leaving with their farm system. This option would save the Blue Jays a ton of money and could help them down the line when the time is right.
Alternatively, the Blue Jays could try to trade some of their top prospects to help fill out their roster, which could also help save them money and avoid having to auction for free agents with the rest of the league.
The issue is, Toronto only has two players in MLB's top 100 prospects ranking.
On the flip side, MLB's evaluators say three of Toronto's top six prospects - 21-year-old infielder Orelvis Martinez, 23-year-old infielder Addison Barger, and 22-year-old infielder Leo Jimenez - are MLB-ready. Five of Toronto's top seven prospects are projected to reach the show by the end of the 2024 season.
One of the pressing needs going into next season is starting pitching depth. Hyun Jin Ryu is a free agent as mentioned before, but he could be an option to return and bolster their rotation. This is especially true given how Alek Manoah has not been a reliable option.
In addition to pitching, the Blue Jays will likely need a left fielder, and an infielder to replace Merrifield, all of which could be potentially found in the free agent market.
Overall, the Blue Jays, who are available at +1400 to win the 2023 World Series, could look much different this upcoming season.
This is not necessarily a bad thing but it means that replicating their 89-win season of 2023 could be much more difficult.