MLB Free Agency: Why Choose Toronto?
Posted on December 8, 2021
Despite taking a huge step forward in the 2021 season and winning 91 games, the Toronto Blue Jays missed the postseason by just one game. Entering 2022, the Jays seem primed to make a playoff push but will need to make some moves in the offseason to help get them there. Toronto has historically never been a big free-agent destination, but recent signings of all-stars like George Springer and Hyun-Jin Ryu have shown that more and more players are willing to come north of the border to play baseball. I’m going to take a look at some potential offseason additions for the Jays, why we should want them, and why they should want to come here.
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Marcus Semien and Robbie Ray put together career years in 2021 (Ray in particular) with the Jays, and are set to command a lot of attention in free agency as they hit the open market. For Semien, he was a staple of arguably baseball’s best offense and took home a gold glove and silver slugger at second base along with a third-place finish in the AL MVP vote for the second time in three years. Ray broke out in a big way putting up career best numbers in most categories on his way to the AL Cy Young award. Both of them were instrumental in the emergence of the Jays as a contender and the team should at least be looking to bring them both back. The pitch to both of them for returning is pretty simple. You both just had the best seasons of your careers and the best way to replicate that success would be to stay. They’ve seen firsthand just how talented this team is and if they stay, they have a real chance at winning the world series. As for money, Rogers Communications (the owners of the Blue Jays) is estimated to be worth north of 20 billion dollars. I’m sure they can pay these two whatever they want.
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Marcus Stroman spent the first five and a half years of his MLB career in Toronto before being traded to the Mets at the 2019 deadline. In 2021 he put up career best numbers in ERA, WHIP, and FIP across a full season and set himself up to garner some serious attention as a free agent. The Jays will have one or two rotation spots to fill and a reunion with Stroman, who was a fan favourite in Toronto, would be a perfect fit. Apart from some alleged bad blood between him and current Blue Jays outfielder Randal Grichuck (more on that here), Stroman has expressed that he would be open to returning to Toronto and would fit in perfectly with the current team. Marcus has had success with the organization in the past and the fans would welcome him back with open arms, so why not run it back with the Jays.
Corey Seager is one of the league’s premier shortstops with one of the best left-handed bats in baseball. This one is a bit of a long shot, given that plenty of other teams would gladly give him one of baseball’s biggest contracts, and he could just as easily stay with the Dodgers where he’s obviously comfortable. That being said, the Jays don’t really have a single good left-handed batter and haven’t for some time now and if Marcus Semien isn’t back next year they’ll have a big hole to fill in the middle infield. While money is one issue, he would also likely have to play second or third base, but given his defensive deficiencies at shortstop, a change of scenery might not be a bad idea. The main allure for him coming to Toronto would be the young talented team the Jays have assembled and the opportunity to go out and win another World Series ring. Along with that, as mentioned before, Rogers Communications has seemingly unlimited capital so if they really want him, they can pay him whatever he wants.
Image Credit: Andy McCullough/The Athletic