The Toronto Blue Jays are making progress with their current rebuild. Despite finishing in 3rd place in the AL East and losing to the Tampa Bay Rays in the Wild Card Round, the Blue Jays finished with a winning record for the first time since 2016.
The Tampa Bay Rays beat out the Yankees in the American League Division Series, as the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox finished in the basement of the division.
This past offseason, the 2020 divisional winners made some offseason moves, getting rid of star pitcher Blake Snell and relief pitcher Jose Alvarado. The Rays also lost Charlie Morton to the Atlanta Braves in free agency. Despite not losing anyone major on offense, the Rays lost a big chunk with those three acquisitions.
Toronto Blue Jays took advantage of the extended playoff rule and got the 7th seed in the American League last year. As mentioned, the Rays eliminated the Blue Jays in the first round.
However, unlike in years past though, the Blue Jays put up competition against the rival Yankees, going 6-6. The Jays had a 22-18 record against the entire division last year.
Are the Toronto Blue Jays underdogs to win the AL East this year? Let’s take a look.
The Blue Jays’ biggest move in the offseason was signing former Houston Astros’ outfielder George Springer to a six-year contract. Also in free agency, they signed former Colorado Rockies’ pitcher Tyler Chatwood and former San Diego Padres’ reliever Kirby Yates.
The Blue Jays traded for injury-riddled New York Mets’ pitcher Steven Matz this past week. Though some see as it a bad move, Blue Jays fans hope it is Matz’s rebirth.
The Blue Jays re-signed trade acquisition Ross Stripling and to add power to the offense, signed Oakland Athletics’ infielder Marcus Semien to a one-year/$18M contract.
The Blue Jays’ offseason may have not been filled with every great movement in the book. However, adding Springer and Semien to beef up the offense, along with getting Yates and Chatwood at low risk, will help improve the young core in the long run and make the Blue Jays’ rebuild turn into awesome results.
Young Core & Past Acquisitions
Before 2020, the Blue Jays’ last winning season was 2016. The losing made the Blue Jays get rid of stars like Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. Ever since then, the Blue Jays have had a top-ten farm system of young players.
The results came out with young players such as Cavan Biggio, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and others. Trade acquisitions from the past like Randal Grichuk and Teoscar Hernandez have also panned out in Toronto.
Hyun-Jin Ryu looks promising after signing a four-year contract with the Jays in December of 2019. Ryu went 5-2 in 12 starts with a 2.69 ERA with 72 strikeouts. The bullpen is slowly starting to come along with names like A.J. Cole, Anthony Bass, Rafael Dolis, and others.
Prediction & Analysis
The Toronto Blue Jays are definitely rising up the ranks in the American League East. Having the young prospects groom into key position players, along with underrated trade acquisitions from the past and free-agent signings from this offseason will help the Blue Jays as an entire squad enter the final steps of their rebuild and emerge as a threat across the league.
The Yankees signed Corey Kluber and traded for Jameson Taillon to finish off their rotation search.
The Baltimore Orioles are still a couple of steps behind in their rebuild ever since Buck Showalter departed as the manager.
The Boston Red Sox hope to get back on track as they re-hired Alex Cora this offseason after he was suspended for all of 2020.
Meanwhile, the 2020 division winners and World Series runner-ups (Tampa Bay Rays) will have to find solutions to stitch up the losses of Charlie Morton and Blake Snell.
The Blue Jays will be a for-sure contender within the division this year. My prediction is that they finish first or second in the AL East. However, if they do not, the rule of the extended playoff will not save them in the end.