Canada H0H 0H0
Hey, Big Guy, how are things? I hope that all is well with you and Mrs. Claus, and of course the elves and reindeer as well. I apologize for writing you this letter so close to Christmas. I have a bit of a confession to make – it’s been quite some time since I’ve written to you (but, of course, you already know that). It’s not that I’ve forgotten about you; no, that’s not it at all. It’s just that I know you are always very busy this time of year, and didn’t want to add to the burden of the season, especially given that, well, I’m an adult. I mean, really, you’re all about the children, as it should be. This year, however, I could really use an assist from the North Pole.
This letter is not just for myself, you see. I’m actually writing to you on behalf of all the Blue Jays fans who made the “nice” list this season and who genuinely deserve a baseball present or two. I realize that some fans don’t deserve nice things – all those who keep wishing for John Gibbons to be fired, and you can forget about that guy who threw the beer can – but there is a tremendous number of very morose Jays fans who could use a some cheering up.
I’m sure you’re unaware as you have far more important things to be concerned with, but the Blue Jays just lost one of their star players and fan favourites to free agency. Edwin Encarnacion was one of the Jays’ most prolific sluggers with whom fans fell in love. Knowing that he’ll walk his parrot (sorry, Santa, that’s a bit of an inside joke) elsewhere does not sit well with fans.
Now, I understand that Jays’ fans have already received gifts in the form of Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce. Both ought to provide good value. Neither can replace Edwin’s offensive production, mind you – though Kendrys is a guy who hit 30 home runs in the cavernous Kauffman Stadium last season and ought to hit well in the more hitter-friendly SkyDome. Pearce is not a flashy signing by any means, but he is serviceable at both first base and in the outfield, while also being a good hitter (he hit .288/.374/.492 last season and while he mashes lefties, he’s also decent against right-handers). If he can remain healthy, he should contribute nicely.
But at this moment, this team is not as good as it was last season. There are still many holes to fill, and the Jays still have approximately $20 million left to spend before they reach their reported budget of $165 million. Here’s where you come in. If you find it in your heart to deliver one of the following, perhaps Jays fans can begin to look forward to next season with hope in their hearts. So, on behalf of all Jays fans, here is what I am hoping for:
Outfielders: Now, I know it looks as though the Blue Jays have enough outfielders in their midst, but in reality, they could use two in the corners (a platoon of Melvin Upton Jr. and Ezequiel Carrera just isn’t going to cut it). The front office did not offer enough to entice Dexter Fowler to sign with the club (now that would have been a nice offseason gift), but there are other options who could fill in quite nicely. Melky Cabrera ought to be relatively inexpensive given that the White Sox are having a fire sale and he has only one year left on his contract. He hit .296/.345/.455 with an OPS of .800 last season and although he isn’t getting any younger, he would add another switch-hitting bat to this lineup. Curtis Granderson would also fit in quite nicely. The Mets no longer need his services and he’d provide some pop from the left side of the plate (he hit 30 home runs last season). Andrew McCutchen maaaay be available in a trade; perhaps you could convince the Pirates to lower their asking price. Otherwise, I doubt the Jays have the trade pieces to get it done.
Now, Santa, there’s one other player out there who would not only fulfill a need at right field, but his return would make many Jays fans very happy. His name is Jose Bautista. Yes, that Jose Bautista, the man behind the momentous bat flip that forever cemented him in Blue Jays lore. He’s apparently willing to take a one year deal (although, at this point, it would need to be a less than the qualifying offer. I mean, let’s not get crazy here). Perhaps a two-year deal with some sort of incentive plan would get the job done. If ever there was a franchise icon, it’s him. Let him finish his career in Toronto. Please make it happen, Santa.
Lefty Reliever: The loss of Brett Cecil had more of an impact than many Jays fans realize, and he will be difficult to replace. There are a few options on the free agent market to whom the Jays have been linked: Jerry Blevins, Boone Logan, and Travis Wood. Now, I’m not too picky here, Santa. Blevins had a good season last year after missing most of 2015 due to a broken arm and posted a 2.79 ERA. Logan has been great against lefties, and Wood just posted a 2.95 ERA with the World Series champions. All three would look great in a Jays uniform.
I know all of this is a lot to ask for but, again, I’m not asking for myself. Blue Jays fans have demonstrated their support for this team – they surpassed 3 million in attendance last saeson for the first time since the early 90s and had the third-highest attendance across baseball with an average of 41,880 per game. Ownership has always maintained that if fans filled the seats, they’d spend money on the field. An increase in the budget to $165 million to begin the season is a great start, but between ticket sales, merchandise, television and radio, ownership could afford more, particularly if it meant being able to keep the window of winning open while also replenishing the farm system.
Thank you for your time today, Santa. If any of my requests were realized, it would go a long way to making the holidays merry for many Jays fans.
P.S. If it’s not too much to ask, could you please ensure that Devon Travis remains healthy all season long? That would be a big help – as things currently stand, he’s likely the leadoff man.
P.P.S. Sorry, Santa. One more thing. Be sure to leave nothing but a lump of coal for Mr. Paul Kinzer. He deserves no better. Trust me on this one.
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