The Toronto Blue Jays returned to the playoffs in 2022 but were quickly brushed aside by the Seattle Mariners in two games in the American League Wild Card Series.
There were several positives to take from the season but the campaign was ultimately a disappointment given the expectations heaped upon the club in spring training.
Toronto’s roster already features plenty of talent but the team still has some work to do to become a legitimate World Series contender. It will be up to general manager Ross Atkins and the rest of the Blue Jays front office to make that happen by complementing the current core with the right pieces this winter.
We’ll keep you up to speed with all the latest news, rumours and analysis as the offseason unfolds.
Jays have offer on table for lefty starter
Toronto has two holes to fill in its 2023 starting rotation with Ross Stripling currently a free agent and neither Yusei Kikuchi or Mitch White showing enough to deserve a locked-in spot for next season. The club has made an offer to southpaw Andrew Heaney to fill one of those roles, according to Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith. The Blue Jays are reportedly one of at least 10 teams to show interest in the 31-year-old.
Heaney enjoyed a terrific — albeit injury-shortened — 2022 campaign for the Los Angeles Dodgers, posting a 3.10 ERA and 13.6 K/9 rate in 16 games. He would be a risky signing for the Jays since his track record before last season is spotty to say the least, but he has a high ceiling if he can stay healthy.
Toronto was “engaged” with Verlander until the end
Justin Verlander ended up signing an enormous contract with the New York Mets on Monday, but it sounds like the Blue Jays were in the hunt until the final hours. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi reports Toronto “remained engaged” with the ace right-hander as late as Sunday. Nicholson-Smith added he heard the Blue Jays were willing to give Verlander a multi-year contract.
Blue Jays missed out on Gibson — again
Verlander wasn’t the only starter the Blue Jays missed out on, as they were “involved until the end” with new Baltimore Orioles pitcher Kyle Gibson, per Nicholson-Smith. Toronto previously expressed interest in Gibson in 2019 before he signed with the Texas Rangers.
The 35-year-old pitched to a 5.05 ERA over 31 starts for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2022.
Twins have called about Blue Jays catchers
The Blue Jays have three MLB-calibre catchers on their roster in Danny Jansen, Gabriel Moreno and Alejandro Kirk, and the Minnesota Twins have touched base to see if they could pry one of them loose, Darren Wolfson of SKOR North Radio and 5 Eyewitness News reports in his latest podcast. The Twins have allegedly also reached out to the Oakland Athletics and Atlanta Braves to inquire about their backstops.
Toronto and Minnesota would have familiarity with one another after linking up for the Jose Berrios trade in 2021.
Blue Jays in the mix for a former MVP?
According to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, Toronto has expressed interest in Cody Bellinger after the 2019 National League MVP was non-tendered by the Los Angeles Dodgers last week. It’s unclear whether the Blue Jays are simply doing due diligence on the new free agent, or if there’s serious interest there.
Bellinger’s agent, Scott Boras, claims his client has already been offered multi-year contracts but would prefer to sign a one-year deal to rebuild his value before cashing in next winter.
Bellinger’s production has fallen off a cliff in recent years and he slashed .210/.265/.389 in 2022. He fills a need in the outfield and hits left-handed, but signing him would be a gamble for Toronto.
Teoscar Hernandez traded to Mariners
Toronto traded star outfielder Teoscar Hernandez to the Seattle Mariners for relief pitcher Erik Swanson and pitching prospect Adam Macko. Swanson owned a 3-2 record with a 1.68 ERA in 53.2 innings for Seattle in 2022, while Macko registered 38 strikeouts in High A.
Jays have their eye on Nimmo
The Jays are reportedly showing interest in free agent OF Brandon Nimmo, according to Morosi.
Nimmo, 29, hit 16 home runs and registered 64 RBIs, slashing .274/.367/.433 in 151 games with the New York Mets in 2022. Nimmo can fill in at center-field, allowing George Springer to move into the right-field spot vacated by Hernandez.
Jays tinker with 40-man roster
The Blue Jays added four prospects to their 40-man roster on Tuesday, electing to protect pitcher Yosver Zulueta and infielders Addison Barger, Spencer Horwitz and Orelvis Martinez from the Rule 5 draft. To make room on the roster, outfielders Raimel Tapia and Bradley Zimmer were designated for assignment, while pitcher Foster Griffin was released.
Jays circling back on Heaney
The Blue Jays were interested in left-hander Andrew Heaney last offseason before he eventually landed with the Los Angeles Dodgers. According to Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith, Toronto is one of his suitors again this year after he posted a 3.10 ERA over 14 starts in 2022. Heaney struck out better than 35 percent of the hitters he faced last season and would be a fit for the middle of the Blue Jays’ rotation.
Suarez on Blue Jays’ radar
Update: Suarez re-signed with Padres on five-year, $46 million contract
One of the most intriguing names on the relief market is Robert Suarez, who opted out of his deal with the San Diego Padres. The hard-throwing right-hander is on Toronto’s radar, per Nicholson-Smith, and it’s easy to see the fit. The Blue Jays’ bullpen lacked late-inning swing-and-miss relievers behind closer Jordan Romano in 2022, and Suarez posted a 31.9 percent strikeout rate with a 2.27 ERA.
Reunion with Stripling in the works?
Ross Stripling enjoyed a phenomenal 2022 campaign and was instrumental in keeping the Blue Jays’ rotation afloat after Hyun Jin Ryu’s season-ending injury. This is likely the 32-year-old’s best chance to secure a longer-term contract, and it’s unclear if it makes sense for the Blue Jays to make that type of commitment. The two sides have at least been in touch as they explore their options, according to Nicholson-Smith, so this is still a situation to keep a close eye on.
Blue Jays looking to trade a catcher?
It’s no secret the Blue Jays have an embarrassment of riches behind the plate, with Alejandro Kirk, Danny Jansen and Gabriel Moreno all starting-calibre catchers at this point. Rival executives are expecting the Jays to use that depth to patch up other areas of the roster, according to Morosi.
Morosi also speculated that Toronto and the Detroit Tigers could line up as trade partners given the latter’s interest in star free agent backstop Willson Contreras. If the Tigers strike out on that signing perhaps they turn their attention north of the border and send a reliever to the Blue Jays in return.
Blue Jays in on Senga?
Speaking at the GM meetings, Atkins said the Blue Jays have a “strong relationship” with Japanese pitching star Kodai Senga’s agent. Atkins expects to be in touch with Senga’s camp once free agency opens and the right-hander would make sense for Toronto on paper. Senga dominated Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball in 2022, recording a 1.94 ERA over 144 innings.
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