For years, fans of the Toronto Blue Jays have been watching the young and upcoming stars that were drafted and developed within the organization. The likes of Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio have given a glimpse of hope and promise to a team that has endured a lengthy rebuild.
Since the Jays made back-to-back runs to the ALCS in 2015 and 2016, the team took a step back to reevaluate what they are going to look like in the future.
Now, with a completely turned-around roster consisting of not one player from any of those teams, the Jays are looking to propel themselves back to those days of deep playoff runs and opportunities at becoming World Champions once again.
Since Joe Carter walked off the Jays back-to-back World Series title in 1993, the team has failed to win another AL pennant and make another appearance in the World Series.
The front office of the team has turned a new face this Winter, looking to take an aggressive approach, spend up and combine their young stars with certified, grade A talent to possibly take the next and final step.
Coming off last season’s quite surprising 32-28 record, good for a Wildcard spot and third place in the AL East, the Jays decided this was the time to play up to the Yankees and Dodgers of the Baseball world, and that they did.
Two major splashes in the Free Agent market are what headlines the Jays push this offseason. A team not known for their lucrative spending, even when they were a contender a few seasons ago, pulled some strings and instantly brought the team to heights and new expectations.
None bigger than this, inking outfielder George Springer to a 6 year, $150 million deal to add some extreme power and run production to a lineup that already was very capable of hammering baseballs.
Springer comes to Toronto off an impressive season in Houston, with 14 home runs and 32 RBI’s in an ultra-shortened regular season. Where this acquisition makes a Hugh difference is in October, where Springer had an even more productive playoff campaign racking up 4 more long balls, 10 RBI, and carrying Houston to a league shocking run to Game 7 of the ALCS.
The Jays weren’t done there, as a few days following the signing of Springer came a move that was much needed at third base. Former Oakland Athletic Marcus Semien to a 1 year “show me” deal worth $18 million.
Semien, who finished third in AL MVP voting in 2019, is known for his consistent hitting and solid effusive play at the hot corner. Moving from one of the MLB’s least favorable hitters parks to one of the league’s most favorable will do good to Semien’s pop and power and allow him to fit right in with this offense lower in the lineup.
Another big question mark for Toronto heading into 2021 was their pitching, whether they could sure up a bullpen and rotation that was iffy at times in last year’s run.
GM Ross Atkins pulled the trigger on big, proven arms for the bullpen like Tyler Chatwood and Kirby Yates. Yates was one of the best relief pitchers in Baseball in 2018 and 2019 and has the potential to be a very high upside signing for the Jays in an eventual closer role.
The resigning of starter Robbie Ray was another solid move for this regime as the pitcher they acquired at last year’s trade deadline managed to regain his past form pitching lower in the rotation.
Lastly, for the arms on this revamped roster, the development of the young pitchers will be detrimental to the teams’ success in 2021. Jordan Romano and Anthony Kay in the pen, and Nate Pearson looking to take the next step as one of the best young starting pitchers in the show.
Where the Blue Jays will have to prove themselves is amongst the tall trees of the American League. As usual in the MLB offseason, the Jays were not the only team to improve their roster.
Corey in the House. pic.twitter.com/yP1JbaUpfN
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) January 28, 2021
The obvious needs to be stated, and that is the New York Yankees are stacked. Although their lineup didn’t change over the course of the offseason, the Bronx Bombers re-upped on their stud second basemen D.J. LeMahieu and added great arms to their rotation in Jamison Taillon and former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber.
The team that took the second-biggest leap this offseason after Toronto was the Chicago White Sox, bolstering their pitching with the league’s best closer, Liam Hendriks as well as the addition of Lance Lynn to their already flawless rotation. Keep an eye out for the young players on this team as well. Lucas Giolito can be in contention for a Cy Young, along with Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert blasting the ball anywhere and everywhere.
Lastly, amongst the AL’s best, the Minnesota Twins are expected to be back to their hard-hitting selves. Bringing in Andrelton Simmons from the Angels in the offseason was an under-the-radar move in the MLB which I expect to make a world of difference for a team that has been much too long-ball dependant over the course of their failed playoff runs in the past few seasons.
The Minnesota Twins have added some speed to their lineup by reportedly agreeing to a one-year, $10.5-million contract with shortstop Andrelton Simmons.https://t.co/mXZNJcaHAa
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) January 27, 2021
The Twins also added rotation depth of their own by signing the consistent former Blue Jay J.A. Happ to join Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios, and Randy Dobnak in what is probably the best starting pitching staff in the American League on paper.
For fans of the Toronto Blue Jays ball club, there is nothing more needed than a trip to Rogers Center to watch this highly anticipated ball club. Amid reports that Rogers Communications wants to demolish the Rogers Center and build a new stadium in the downtown core of Toronto, there is nothing more needed than a ball game with the roof open with this stacked roster putting on a show.
The Jays have been a rebuilding squad for years now, and ever since the playoff success they found 6 years ago, everyone has been eager to retool and get back for another shot. The excitement is building for 2021 and with pitchers and catchers set to report in just over a month, I can’t wait to follow this journey every step of the way.
Evan Power, Evolution 107.9