If you weren’t paying attention during the Hot Stove, the Toronto Blue Jays made the biggest trade in the offseason and one of the most important trades in the history of the storied Canadian franchise. Even though manager John Farrell moved to the rival Boston Red Sox last October, the Blue Jays look to have improved with the hiring of John Gibbons.
Through a major trade with the Miami Marlins, a trade with the New York Mets, and key free-agent signings, the team is greatly different and vastly improved from the side that finished 73-89 and fourth place in the American League East.
There was a record amount of player movement for the Jays this offseason. Alex Anthopolous helped guide star players to the team with stellar front-office work in November and December, while retaining the great talent already on the roster.
Key players lost in free agency: Jason Frasor (to Texas Rangers), Kelly Johnson (to Tampa Bay Rays), Brandon Lyon (to New York Mets), and Carlos Villanueva (to Chicago Cubs).
Players traded to Marlins: Henderson Álvarez, Anthony Desclafani, Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, Jake Marisnick, Jeff Mathis, and Justin Nicolino.
Players traded to Mets: Wuilmer Becrra, John Buck, Travis D’Arnaud, and Noah Syndergaard.
Key players brought in through free agency: Melky Cabrera (formerly with San Francisco Giants), Maicer Izturis (formerly with Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim).
Players brought in from Marlins: Emilio Bonifacio, John Buck (traded to Mets), Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, and José Reyes.
Players brought in from Mets: R.A. Dickey, Mike Nickeas, and Josh Thole.
The team payroll for the 2012 season was $83.8 million. Currently, the team looks to be going in to the 2013 season with a payroll of around $122 million. The great increase in payroll moved the team up in rankings from 22nd in 2012 to 8th for the upcoming 2013 season.
Lineup and Batting Order:
The batting order looks much improved from last season’s team. Expect to see better numbers from Jose Bautista, who looks to have recovered fully from a wrist injury, which kept him out of the lineup for much of 2012. The only change you may see is Josh Thole starting at the catcher position when R.A. Dickey takes the mound, since Thole has a much greater amount of experience handling the knuckleball.
1. Jose Reyes, SS
2. Melky Cabrera, LF
3. Jose Bautista, RF
4. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B/DH
5. Brett Lawrie, 3B
6. Colby Rasmus, CF
7. Adam Lind, 1B/DH
8. J.P. Arencibia, C
9. Maicer Izturis, 2B
Pitching Rotation and Bullpen:
The 2013 starting rotation for the Jays looks to be one of the best in baseball. The offseason additions of 2012 NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, with his tricky knuckleball, and innings-eater Mark Buehrle will help the team win a lot more games this season. Talented pitcher J.A. Happ and Chad Jenkins are first in line for spot starts at a moment’s notice.
1. R.A. Dickey, RHP
2. Brandon Morrow, RHP
3. Mark Buehrle, LHP
4. Josh Johnson, RHP
5. Ricky Romero, LHP
The bullpen looks to have improved, but even with the season starting soon it isn’t clear whether Janssen or Santos will be receiving more save opportunities next season. Veteran Darren Oliver will help lead the bullpen in keeping late leads, which was a problem for the Jays last season.
Closer: Casey Janssen, RHP
Setup: Sergio Santos, RHP
Brett Cecil, LHP
Steve Delabar, RHP
Jeremy Jeffress, RHP
Brad Lincoln, RHP
Aaron Loup, LHP
Darren Oliver, LHP
Esmil Rogers, RHP
The Jays traded many of the most promising prospects in deals with the Marlins and Mets, but they still have an adequate farm system filled with talent. Here’s a run-down of the top three prospects currently with the Jays:
Aaron Sanchez, RHP: The 2010 draft pick spent the 2012 season in single A with Lansing. He has shown some control problems, but when he finds the plate and walks fewer batters he could quickly rise up through the minors. The next two years of his development will surely lead him to a spot on the major league roster.
Daniel Norris, LHP: Drafted by the Jays in 2011, he was one of the most coveted picks out of high school in the draft year. He has shown some problems with his delivery, posting nearly an 8 ERA in rookie league. His issues aren’t worrisome, and the team figures he can learn how to change his delivery to handle major league hitting. With a fantastic presence on the mound, within the next two to three years he is expected to be a top of the rotation starter.
D.J. Davis, OF: The first-round draft pick from 2012 has incredible speed around the bases. They expect him to be an exciting lead-off hitter when he matures to the majors. So far in the minors he has improved his swing and is finding the holes to hit in to, getting on base fairly well with a combined .355 OBP. They expect him to make a run at the majors in 2016.
Eric Jonathan Martin was born up in New York, but raised by proud Canadian parents. He remembers watching post-season baseball in the early 90’s fondly. Now living deep in Red Sox nation, he enjoys 19 games a year, but wishes SportsCenter could be a lot more like SportsCentre.