Blue Jays hope to fill their needs during the Winter Meetings

 (Will Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion be back with the Blue Jays Courtesy of REUTERS/Mike Cassese)

(Will Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion be back with the Blue Jays? Courtesy of REUTERS/Mike Cassese)

TORONTO- It may not be exactly Christmas shopping, but the Toronto Blue Jays are looking to be aggressive buyers during the 2016 Winter Meeting in Washington D.C. This event present a great opportunity many baseball executives to improve their respective ball clubs whether is having dialog to other general managers about making trades or talking to free agents about contract negotiations. Look for Ross Atkins to have a busy week at the Winter Meeting.

TORONTO- It may not be exactly Christmas shopping, but the Toronto Blue Jays are looking to be aggressive buyers during the 2016 Winter Meeting in Washington D.C. This event present a great opportunity many baseball executives to improve their respective ball clubs whether is having dialog to other general managers about making trades or talking to free agents about contract negotiations. Look for Ross Atkins to have a busy week at the Winter Meeting.

The Blue Jays are expecting to compete for the World Series next season and they have the pieces to do so. They team still have great players surrounding Josh Donaldson and their pitching staff have been one of the best in the American League. On the other hand, the team are in position to lose Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Michael Saunders to free agency and Brett Cecil already signed with the St. Louis Cardinals on a 4-year deal worth $30.5 million. The Blue Jays have many holes that they need to fill this offseason. They have to be very active in order to satisfy their fan base.

Here what they need to accomplished during the Winter Meeting:

1) Corner Outfielders

This is a huge hole that the Blue Jays need to fill out with Bautista and Saunders both testing the market. So far the projected outfielders are Melvin Upton Jr. in left, Kevin Pillar in centre and Ezequiel Carrera in right. That’s not going to pan out for the Blue Jays to stay competitive.

The Blue Jays are reported to be “strongly interested” in Dexter Fowler. Fowler is a switch hitter who gets on base consistently and has the speed on the base paths and on the field. The Blue Jays will have to forfeit their first round pick to sign Fowler, but that might be a good considerations in order to fill one of the corner outfield spots.

They can look for some mid-tier free agents like Steve Pearce, who hits well against lefties, Rajai Davis and Carlos Gomez could be intriguing for the Blue Jays. It is also possible for a reunion with Ben Revere, who was non-tendered with the Washington Nationals.

The Blue Jays could also be looking to address the outfield in trades. Andrew McCutchen and Adam Eaton are both intriguing for the Blue Jays, but the asking price is going to be very significant for both of these players as they don’t want to give up too much of their prospect capital. The Jay Bruce rumors just won’t go away, but Bruce does present a lefty power bat to replace Bautista. Also possibility includes Charle Blackman, Curtis Granderson and Jarrod Dyson.

The Blue Jays also have some internal options with Dalton Pompey, who won the job back in 2015 but was sent in the minors to work on his hitting. Pompey has speed and range in the outfield, but need to prove that he can hit at the big league level. Their best OF prospect Anthony Alford has the tools and potential to be a elite 5-tool player. But after dealing with injuries, the Blue Jays may not want to rush his development. The Blue Jays signed Lourdes Gurriel Jr. earlier this season to add some versatility. The 23-year old Cuban prospect could make an impact at some point in 2017.

2) Bullpen

Losing Cecil is a huge loss for the Blue Jays. Cecil was their most reliable lefty reliever over the past six seasons. The Blue Jays need to add another lefty to replace Cecil. Aaron Loup has been inconsistent over the last two season and Chad Girodo is not going to pan out. Roberto Osuna, Jason Grilli are their most reliable guys in the back end, but it would be nice to add another righty to replace Joaquin Benoit, who’s also a free agent.

It’s unlikely that the Blue Jays are going after the elite free agent relievers like Aroldis Chapman, Kenly Jansen and Mark Melancon. They can look at the mid-tier free agents such as Boone Logan and Jerry Blevins to fill their needs in the bullpen.

3) Backup Catcher

Russell Martin cannot be playing every single day. The Blue Jays will need their 33-year old Canadian catcher to be fresh all season long next year. It is possible that the Blue Jays could look to bring back Dioner Navarro to fill that spot. But the Blue Jays may want to look at a younger and more defensive minded catcher on the market. Kurt Suzuki and Wellington Castillo are both good defenders, but may want to look for an everyday role. Geovany Soto and Nick Hundley can also be in the mix.

4) First Baseman

The Blue Jays want Edwin Encarnacion back. But with the signing of Kendrys Morales, it may be difficult to bring back their longtime slugger to make 140 starts at first. If Encarnacion sign else, then Justin Smoak may have to take on the responsibility as their everyday first basemen. That’s the worst case scenario for the Blue Jays to have.

Every Blue Jays fans’ fantasy is Joey Votto playing for his hometown team. However, there are reports indicating that Votto is not willing to waive his no-trade clause and wants to remain with the Cincinnati Reds. It is possible that the Blue Jays could talk again about Votto, but it’s unlikely to Votto in a Blue Jays uniform.

There are some interest in Mike Napoli and Mitch Moreland to fill in at first. The Jays also could look for some versatility with Steve Pearce, who can platoon at first with Smoak. He can also play in the outfield as well.

With a payroll budget at around $160-165 million range, the Blue Jays should have enough wiggle to take full advantage of this year free agency. Not saying they should spending it all on just bringing the best player on the market. but The Blue Jays should spread their wealth by acquiring high character players that fits their needs and can work cohesively as a team. Look for Ross Atkins to maximize the team’s budget and spend wisely on filling out the teams’ needs.

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