The Blue Jays in 2014 performed very well under the management of John Gibbons, who is now in his second stint with the team. It might be going a little too far as to say that the Jays in 2014 were a good team who could compete for a playoff spot, but they were sure fun to watch. During the times that Toronto was healthy during the 2014 season, they were very entertaining with their power game. Players like Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Colby Rasmus could most certainly smack that ball out of Rogers Centre whenever they wanted too. So going into the offseason, the Blue Jays’ front office had to find a way to make the entertainment in 2014 become playoff talent in 2015.
So far the Jays have made a lot of moves this offseason, but is this some-what reconstructed roster ready to contend in 2015? Not yet, because despite the impressive moves they have made so far, there are still some holes to fill. The offseason checklist still has bullpen help at the top followed by minor SP and outfield help. Even though the Jays have not added anyone to either the bullpen or starting rotation yet, the pitching has already improved because of the first big offseason move that they made. The Jays new catcher Russell Martin will have a big impact on the pitching staff, as he is one of the best plate framers in the game today. Also, since Russell has already got 2-years of AL East experience under his belt, he knows some of the AL East hitters very well, which means that his pitch calling will most likely be very true. Martin is not going to be able to turn the Jays pitching staff into a dynamic fleet on his own though, so an addition or two for the bullpen and rotation might very well turn the Jays’ 2014 4.00 ERA into a 3.00 ERA. But, pitching does require some run support, which the Jays have done a fairly good job with retooling so far this offseason.
The biggest acquisition the Jays completed this offseason besides Russell Martin, is trading for Josh Donaldson. Coming off of his first season as an all-star, he will bring his home-run derby type of bat along with his dynamic 3B arm to Toronto, as he will fit in nicely to the 4, 5, or 6 hole in the Jays lineup. With this addition, the Jays now have a three-headed power monster in Donaldson, Encarnacion, and Bautista, who all produced a total of 98 homers in 2014. They also have a potential 4th head, in the newly acquired first baseman, Justin Smoak, who came from Seattle standing at 6 foot 4 inches lugging around 230 pounds. Although power is the Jays’ strength in offense, they also have some other pieces, like their shortstop Jose Reyes, who if healthy can be one of the top SS in the league. Considering that in 2014 when Reyes played in a healthy 143 games, he put up some great numbers that have not been seen for a couple years due to injuries, as this past season he hit .287 with 175 hits, 94 runs, 33 doubles, and stole 30 bags. Reyes was not the only Jay with this type of game in 2014, as Melky Cabrera also played a similar role in the batter’s box, but Melky has already left to sign with the White Sox, leaving two below average outfielders in the starting roles in CF and LF in Toronto.
Speaking of the outfield that is another hole that needs to be attended to before the 2015 season starts, but of course pitching is still the number one priority for the remainder of this offseason. So if the Jays can add a starting pitcher like free agent Kuroda, Shields, or Kyle Kendrick and a relief pitcher like Craig Breslow, Rafael Soriano, or rumored K-rod, than the Jays have a legitimate chance at winning 88 games and competing for a playoff spot, borrowing the belief that GM, Alex Anthopoulos, will find a fix in the outfield as well. With the Jays checking off the remainder of their offseason wish list, they should be ready to compete for the AL East division title or just a playoff spot, but as of right now they are not quite there yet.