Slowly but surely, free agency is starting to get going
So what’s up around the league, and more specifically, in Blue Jays land? Let’s dig into some interesting notes from the past few days.
St. Louis Cardinals sign two starters:
It’s no secret that the Cardinals need starting pitchers, as the team combined for an ugly 4.79 ERA during the 2023 season. So St. Louis went ahead and signed two starters who weren’t great in 2023.
First was Lance Lynn, who had a 5.73 ERA and a 5.53 FIP in 183.2 innings pitched with the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers. They followed that up by signing veteran innings-eater Kyle Gibson. Last season, the 36-year-old had a 4.73 ERA and a 4.13 FIP in 192 innings pitched with the Baltimore Orioles.
We have signed RHP Lance Lynn and RHP Kyle Gibson to one-year contracts for the 2024 season. Both deals include a 2025 club option.
Lynn has been selected to two All-Star teams and was a member of our 2011 World Series championship team.
Gibson, who pitched at Mizzou, ranked in… pic.twitter.com/syiYk5eUkq
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) November 21, 2023
This actually has some relevance to the Blue Jays, as the Cardinals and Jays would be excellent trading partners. St. Louis needs pitching, especially for the front of the rotation, and Manoah has offered that in two of the three years he’s pitched in the MLB. On the other hand, the Jays need outfielders, and of course, the Cardinals have a surplus of that.
A trade may still happen, as St. Louis expects to be competitive in 2024, and to do so, they’ll need a front end of the rotation starter.
Chicago White Sox sign Paul DeJong:
Per Jon Heyman, the Chicago White Sox have signed former Cardinal, Blue Jay, and San Fran Giant Paul DeJong.
The 30-year-old’s tenure with Toronto was brief, as they acquired him at the 2023 trade deadline because of a Bo Bichette injury. DeJong slashed a .068/.068/.068 line in 44 plate appearances before being cut. He signed a minor-league deal with the Giants and lasted a few weeks before getting cut loose again.
According to MLB’s Twitter account, Paul DeJong was the top free-agent shortstop on the market. That’s quite a change from the likes of Corey Seager, Trea Turner, and Dansby Swanson that we’ve seen over the past few years. There were also several other Blue Jays on this Tweet, such as Matt Chapman (third base), Whit Merrifield (second base), and Teoscar Hernández (right field).
Shopping season is open!
What is your team's biggest need? pic.twitter.com/36zWDsTJ3v
— MLB (@MLB) November 20, 2023
In this trade, the Blue Jays gave up prospect reliever Matt Svanson. The 24-year-old posted a 3 ERA and a 2.45 FIP in 21 innings pitched with St. Louis’ Double-A team, registering a 29.1 K% and a 5.8 BB%. In his final 15.2 innings, he posted a 0.57 ERA and 2.10 FIP, along with a 33.3 K% and a 5 BB%.
This trade may bite the Jays in the butt in a few seasons, but it was a necessary one to make at the time, given Bo’s injury.
Blue Jays looking to make their first steps in a different direction “any day now”:
Per Keegan Matheson’s recent MLB.com article, he noted that the Blue Jays will look to move in a different direction this off-season. Excitingly, he notes that it’ll happen “any day now” rather than “in the coming weeks.”
He doesn’t really expand on which players help the change in direction, but the team is already being aggressive in the trade market. Could they be looking at an outfielder for the Padres? Or maybe Nolan Arenado from the Cardinals? The options are endless!
Cubs have spoken to the Blue Jays about Bo Bichette:
According to a report from Matt Cozzi of Locked on Cubs, Chicago has been talking to the Jays about Bo Bichette. This is the second time Bichette’s name has come up in rumours, as according to MLB’s Juan Toribio, the Dodgers were “monitoring” the shortstop market, including Bichette.
Update on a Bo Bichette trade scenario, per @matt_cozzi. Here’s a point to ponder: How would a Bichette-to-Cubs trade impact the way Ohtani views both of these potential suitors? @MLBNetwork https://t.co/1wp8ddbkw5
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 22, 2023
The 25-year-old shortstop was Toronto’s best player in 2023, slashing .306/.339/.475 with 20 homers in 601 plate appearances. His 3.8 fWAR was the best on the team, and his defence improved compared to the season prior.
I have difficult time believing these rumours are true, as the Blue Jays wish to be competitive as long as possible. Moving Bichette when he still has two seasons before free agency would hurt the Jays, especially since the shortstop market is so weak at the moment (remember DeJong being the best shortstop in free agency?).
An interesting thought from Josh Howsam on Twitter… Might the Dodgers and Cubs be trying to sway Shohei Ohtani away from the possibility of signing in Toronto? He wants to sign with a contender and the suggestion that they might be moving a star shortstop would indicate a different direction, true or not.
Am I wearing a tinfoil hat if I’m starting to read this Bo rumour nonsense as the Cubs trying to sway Ohtani?
— Joshua (@JoshuaHowsam) November 22, 2023
How do ZiPS projections see the Blue Jays?:
Dan Szymborski of Fangraphs gave a sneak preview of how the Blue Jays would fair in the ZiPS preview, and it wasn’t great.
Of course, this doesn’t feature the soon-to-be additions to the Blue Jays roster, but the highest position player fWAR is Bo Bichette’s 3.8, which would match his 2023 fWAR. The highest fWAR from a position would be Kirk’s and Jansen’s 4.1 fWAR, while Kevin Gausman has the single highest fWAR at 4.1.
— Dan Szymborski (@DSzymborski) November 21, 2023
I wouldn’t focus too much on these predictive models as they completely take away the game’s human element. It does, however, illustrate that the Jays have several holes to fill. It predicts that five players will play third base: Cavan Biggio, Orelvis Martinez, Damiano Palmegiani, Santiago Espinal, and Addison Barger (1.3 fWAR altogether).
As it stands, Nathan Lukes is slated to be their starting left fielder, with Biggio also filling in and “Varshiguawitz,” a combination of Daulton Varsho, Rafael Lantigua (who is a minor-league free agent), and Spencer Horwitz, who isn’t even listed at first base.
The Varshiguawitz made me laugh, so that’s why this section is in the News and Notes.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads @Brennan_L_D.
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