For fans of the Toronto Blue Jays, this offseason has been a roller coaster of emotion and drama.
It starts with Kendrys Morales, who was signed far too early in the offseason. It’s hard to blame the Jays for that one- There was no way to know the bizarre market for power bats at the time.
Then, there was Dexter Fowler. Fowler fit the needs of the Jays very well, as they had openings in the outfield. However, it was not in the cards. Well, it kind of was- Fowler took his services to the St. Louis Cardinals. Those Cards had already outbid the Jays for lefty Brett Cecil.
Cecil. The name didn’t exactly inspire confidence during the first half of the 2015 and 2016 seasons, but he was very good during the latter part of both years. At the very least, he kept the inconsistent Aaron Loup out of high-pressure situations. He’ll be playing for a different team for the first time in his career.
It was shaky to that point, and Edwin Encarnacion leaving did nothing to help the emotional Jays fan. However, it wasn’t all bad this offseason for the Jays. It wouldn’t be much of a roller coaster if that was the case.
Over the course of the winter, the Jays retained Jose Bautista, Jason Grilli, Gavin Floyd and Darwin Barney. Toronto also acquired prospect Lourdes Gurriel Jr, infielder Steve Pearce, pitchers Glenn Sparkman, Dominic Leone, Brett Oberholtzer, a few more minor league names, and most recently catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Saltalamacchia. A catcher who helped Boston to a championship in 2013. A switch-hitter. Decent power, lower batting average. Wait. We’ve heard that story before relating to the Blue Jays. Let’s take a quick look at a projection of the current offensive situation…
1- Devon Travis, Second Base
2- Josh Donaldson, Third Base
3- Jose Bautista, Right Field
4- Kendrys Morales, Designated Hitter
5- Troy Tulowitzki, Shortstop
6- Russell Martin, Catcher
7- Steve Pearce, First Base
8- Melvin Upton Jr, Left Field
9- Kevin Pillar, Centre Field
Bench- Justin Smoak, First Base
Bench- Ezequiel Carrera, Outfield
Bench- Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Catcher
Bench- Darwin Barney, Infield
(Dalton Pompey and Ryan Goins just out)
Currently, there’s not as many “higher power, lower batting average” guys as one might think, but it should also be considered a lot of fans were looking to move away from that in favour of more balanced additions in the offseason. Salty is more of the same one-dimensional “win by the homer” play style many were hoping to move away from.
That said, no one other than Smoak and now Salty is a power threat on that bench. Really, he looks like the best bat off of the six contenders if he can come closer to his 2013 stats in the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre.
Defensively, Salty only needs to be average once or twice a week so he can help Russell Martin maintain stamina throughout the season. Shouldn’t be too hard for the veteran catcher.
Overall, the signing of Jarrod Saltalamacchia looks pretty positive for the Blue Jays, even though it seems like more of the same at first glance.
Next up, the club would appear likely to strengthen the bullpen.