The Toronto Blue Jays are having one of the better offseasons in the league, acquiring Josh Donaldson and signing Russell Martin. More importantly, they didn’t lose any of their top prospects, who are sure to be relevant in 2015 and beyond. The young players on the club will be key to making the playoffs and potentially going on a Royals-esque run once they get there.
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The team can match up with anyone offensively, with sluggers like Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and now Donaldson. Although injury is a massive concern, Jose Reyes is still one of the best offensive shortstops in the game and will be the team’s leadoff hitter for as long as he stays healthy.
Martin will finally add some stability to the catcher position, after dealing with the likes of Dioner Navarro, J.P. Arencibia, John Buck and Jose Molina as starters over the last few years. The Jays did have Yan Gomes on their roster before foolishly trading him to the Indians before the 2013 season.
A big loss for the club will be Melky Cabrera, who they have replaced with Michael Saunders, who could prove to be a key pickup. Trading Anthony Gose to Detroit freed up the position for top prospect Dalton Pompey to take over in center. The switch hitter showed that he can be a star last season, with an .861 OPS and 43 steals through three minor league levels. The team saw enough in his September call-up to feel comfortable having him start in 2015.
Adding Martin, Saunders and Pompey to the fold was part of a Canadian overhaul the Jays had this offseason, which also included trading Brett Lawrie to the Athletics.
They were also able to acquire second basemen Devon Travis from the Tigers in the Gose deal, who could make an impact in Toronto this season as well.
There is little doubt that the team sports a top 10 offense, and could be more of a top 5 if their stars stay healthy.
The Jays lack an ace, but have the makings of a solid rotation with prospects on the verge. They could still be looking to add a starter like James Shields, which would be a huge move for the club. R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle both provide a veteran presence, although they aren’t top of the rotation starters any more.
Marcus Stroman is one of the best young pitchers in the game, and it won’t be too long before he reaches his top of the rotation ceiling. Another pitcher who should continue to get better is Drew Hutchison, who had 184 strikeouts in 184 innings last year. These two should be part of the rotation for the foreseeable future.
Stroman and Hutchison will soon be joined by fellow budding stars like lefthander Daniel Norris and Aaron Sanchez, who are on the cusp of shedding their prospect label. FanSided’s TJ Hoogsteen talks about the year Norris and others had discussing the 2014 Organizational All Stars. They both had a taste of the Majors in 2014, and neither disapointed. There’s a chance that both could be in the rotation together this season, but they also may end up battling for one spot.
The bullpen isn’t the best, but it has the chance to improve with Brett Cecil as closer over Casey Janssen. Aaron Loup and Chad Jenkins could be solid pieces as well. They still may be looking to add a bullpen arm, which doesn’t sound like a bad idea because they don’t have a ton of depth here.
The Jays are going to be a dangerous team in 2015, especially if they can add Shields. Their 2016 Opening Day rotation could consist of Shields-Stroman-Norris-Sanchez-Hutchison. That has the chance to be one of the best rotations in the league.
Having a lot of veteran hitters makes it tough to keep them all together. Jose Bautista’s best chance at ever winning it all in Toronto will probably be in 2015 and 2016. Having young players step in and make an impact early on could give them a chance to do some real damage.