After a return to the postseason this year, here are three moves the Toronto Blue Jays must make this offseason.
A promising trio of young infielders, who also happen to be the sons of former major leaguers — Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio and Bo Bichette — will lead the way for the Blue Jays into the future. There will be challenges, and it’s unclear if they’ll be able to play in Toronto next season right now. But the Blue Jays are in the bottom-10 in payroll on the books for 2021 at this point, and general manager Ross Atkins has hinted at the possibility of another significant move after signing Hyun Jin Ryu last offseason.
“I think we are in a position where we could add to this team with talent that is condensed in one player and a super high impact,” he said. “We’re going to continue to think about how we can build upon this group, and hopefully it’s both complementary as well as making as making a really high impact.”
To navigate back to the top of the AL East, the Blue Jays will have to be bold over the next couple offseasons. Here are three moves they should make this offseason.
3. Sign Andrelton Simmons
The Blue Jays reportedly checked on Simmons as the 2020 trade deadline approached, before pivoting to Jonathan Villar. Simmons is going to be a free agent, and as soon as the Angels were all but formally eliminated from playoff contention, he opted out of the rest of the season. It’s unclear if that decision with a week to go in the season will be a black mark on him when he hits the market.
Simmons is a four-time Gold Glover, and he holds his own with a bat in his hands (.297/.346/.356 slash-line in 30 games this season). A look at FanGraphs’ defensive leaders at shortstop from 2012-20 shows Simmons lapping his peers in Defensive Runs Saved (191), UZR (113.6), DRS/1,000 innings (20.9) and UZR/150 (17.1). His career bWAR is 36.6.
Left ankle problems have limited Simmons the last two seasons (103 games in 2019), so 2017’s 19 stolen bases may not be coming back, and even double-digit steals may be a tough bargain. His sprint speed, according to Statcast, has progressively fallen from the 62nd percentile in 2017 to the 32nd percentile this season.
The Blue Jays should welcome Simmons’ defense at shortstop, and if he can get healthier than he has been the last two seasons, he should have plenty left all-around at 31 years old. Bo Bichette would move off shortstop to accommodate Simmons for a couple seasons, likely to third base/second base as he and Cavan Biggio could rotate between those two spots. Upgrading with an outside option at third base is possible, but adding Simmons is a better move. Even if it means shifting Bichette to another position.