Carrera Pearce

Why This Offseason Will Be Ross Atkins’ Most Active One Yet

With the GM Meetings taking place in Orlando, Florida this week, the baseball hot stove season is finally in full swing. We’re hearing the trade rumours, outlandish contract requests, and traditional posturing that all start to show up as the time for offseason moves nears.

From the Blue Jays perspective, their needs are pretty clearly defined. They could use a fifth starter, a better backup infielder/utility player, at least one good, regular outfielder, and are rumoured to be going after an extra late game reliever. Because of that, we are already hearing names being thrown around. What makes the Toronto situation unusual, however, is that the Blue Jays are in a spot where no matter who they choose to add, they will also need to subtract from their current roster.

For starters, thanks to a good waiver wire pickup of Taylor Guerrieri from the Rays, the Blue Jays have used up 36 spots on their 40-man roster limit. While that doesn’t become an issue for the major leaguers just yet, this is very much a pressing matter when it comes to prospects. As Tammy Rainey very nicely outlined back in September, the Blue Jays are currently in a situation with multiple players who should be added to the 40-man to protect them from the Rule 5 draft. Conner Greene, Reese McGuire, Dan Jansen, Max Pentecost, Tom Pannone, and Rowdy Tellez are at the top of that list, with others like Jordan Romano, Andrew Case, and Angel Perdomo slotting in behind them as those who the Blue Jays probably would like to protect, but may not have the room. All of this must be decided by November 20th.

That was at least a somewhat foreseeable situation and one that many teams have to deal with. What’s surprising about Toronto, however, is that this problem exists on the big league roster as well.

Typically, teams that only win 76 games don’t run into a situation where they have too many viable major leaguers on reasonable contract situations, but that’s exactly where the Blue Jays find themselves. These aren’t necessarily good players, but they are useful ones.

As mentioned right up at the top, the Blue Jays are in desperate need of at least one good outfielder – thanks to the departure (and decline) of Jose Bautista. Kevin Pillar is entrenched in the middle (though perhaps he shouldn’t be) and Teoscar Hernández is the likely front runner for another spot, but the third spot is definitely open for someone from outside the organization. Oddly, the presence of Hernández, despite the ability to option him to Buffalo, is what is creating this roster logjam to begin with. If he indeed locks up that second spot, the Blue Jays will then have both Steve Pearce and Ezequiel Carrera vying for a single backup outfielder job.

Carrera is up for arbitration, but he’s coming off a good year and likely to be at such a reasonable salary that he’s a pretty easy tender candidate. At the same time, Pearce is under a guaranteed contract, so that decision is already made for the Jays. That would be easy enough to manage though, were it not for the “problem” created by the emergence of Justin Smoak at first base. With Kendrys Morales locked in at the DH spot, there’s just no easy way to get Pearce into the lineup. I’m sure Toronto would love to dump the Morales contract, but that seems pretty unlikely. So with Carrera lurking and a potential NEW outfielder, it’s a very crowded group.

Pearce would potentially be a nice extra bat off the bench, seeing ABs against tough lefties here and there, but there’s also the issue of the Jays middle infield. On that front, there are constant rumblings that the Blue Jays are seriously gunning for someone like Eduardo Nunez to fill their backup infielder position. It’s not hard to see why: Nunez has hit well the last couple of years, he plays a lot of positions, and with the questionable health of Devon Travis, the Jays desperately need a new infielder. The problem: Eduardo Nunez is a terrible shortstop and the Blue Jays need someone to handle that position for when Troy Tulowitzki inevitably gets injured.

Even if it’s not Nunez, the odds are pretty slim of getting someone through free agency who can handle short, hit, and is willing to play the utility role. This means the team will likely need someone else on the roster who can play short. Whether that’s Ryan Goins, Darwin Barney, or some other random infielder, that’s another spot taken up. They could get someone who can play second base and the outfield, but that wouldn’t alleviate the need for another shortstop. That means there’s not a spot on the bench for Pearce and a fourth outfielder.

Finally, you have the bullpen. The Blue Jays have Roberto Osuna, Ryan Tepera, Dominic Leone, Danny Barnes, Aaron Loup, Carlos Ramirez, Tom Koehler, Joe Biagini, and Matt Dermody in the mix, and the rumour is that they want to add one more good reliever to the group.

All of that means one of Carrera or Pearce has to go, if not both, with at least one of those relievers going onto the block. Add in the prospects mentioned above as well as those already on the 40-man (Dwight Smith, Anthony Alford, Ryan Borucki) and you actually have a group of players that could be pretty enticing to other clubs.

That adds up to create a scenario where we could see this offseason being Shapiro and Atkins’ most active one yet. The Jays have pieces that could fit with teams in all situations and they simply have to move some of them. This opens up the sort of ridiculous, fantastical offseason dreaming that only trade rumours can bring about.

So start the speculation. After the season we just witnessed, we deserve a little hot stove fun.

Lead Photo © Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

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7 comments on “Why This Offseason Will Be Ross Atkins’ Most Active One Yet”


Toronto’s 40 man roster I currently at 36 players.

Joshua Howsam

Thanks. Came here to fix that and saw your comment. Still a crunch though!


Florida Marlins need prospects- Jays acquire outfielder Ozuna -+ Gordon. Jays give up Alford + SRF+ McGuire + Pentecost
Trade lower tier Pitching from the Mets. TBJ trades Travis + prospects.

Joshua Howsam

That Marlins trade seems a bit slanted towards the Marlins given the amount of money coming Toronto’s way in that deal.

And who is “lower tier pitching” from the Mets?


TBJ trades Travis for Zach Wheeler

Ozuna+ Gordon= Pillar + SRF + McGuire+ Pentacost.


What is the possibility of getting Ozuna? That and Dee? Those are two players i would love to see in blue


“Useful” players is another word for “mediocre” players. On the pitching side, the Jays have a solid crop, but could use a little more depth in both the bullpen and rotation.

The real question marks here lie on offense. I don’t mind giving Teoscar a shot at winning the job, but I also don’t get why the Jays are so enamored with him. While he hasn’t had a ton of ML AB’s, in the ones he has had, he looked like exactly the kind of player the Jays have too many of…will hit around .250, pop out a few homers, strike out too much, and not get on base nearly enough. I agree he should be optioned…let him win a job in ST, not anoint him one right now.

I love the idea of Jay Bruce coming over to take over Bautista’s spot. The Jays have liked Bruce for a while, almost acquiring him in each of the last two seasons. He’d be an improvement offensively over Bautista, and would probably come at a bargain, but would still leaves us needing another outfield bat. I like Zeke and Pearce, but I don’t think either of them are every day players. I think an outfield of Bruce and Pillar is a good start, but the Jays still need a proven third outfield. I’d like to see them pursue someone like Lorenzo Cain to play left field. He’s a solid hitter…always hovering around a .300 BA, .360 OBP, would probably put up 15-20 HR in Toronto while providing us with some badly needed speed on the bases. An outfield of Cain/Pillar/Bruce would be respectable defensively, and be significantly better offensively than we had last year. I’d hate to let him go, but unfortunately the Pearce contract forces the team to cut Zeke and make Pearce the fifth outfielder/Smoak insurance.

On the infield side, the real choice is easy IMO. Barney and Goins are the same player offensively, but I’d give the nod to Goins because he’s a much better player defensively and Barney is a free agent. I do think the Nunez signing wouldn’t be a bad move. Even though he isn’t a great SS, the middle infield market behind Cozart, Walker, and Phillips (none of whom are likely to come here in a part-time role) is filled with utility guys, with Nunez being the best of the bunch.

While that is the more practical route (signing reasonably priced FA’s with maybe one splurge), dealing some of our prospect depth to the Marlins for Gordon and Ozuna would solve a lot of problems, and remove the need to sign one of the two FA OF’s I mentioned (likely Cain as he’d be more expensive).

Do all of this and the Jays lineup looks a lot better than it did at the end of last year.

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