Blue Jays ahead

Posted: October 25, 2015 by Sports Time Radio in baseball
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The Toronto Blue Jays season ended Friday night with a 4-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series. It was Toronto’s first playoff appearance since 1993 and it ended the longest drought by any team of not making the playoffs. As the Blue Jays look to the 2016 season you have to wonder what they’ll look like.

Team President Paul Beeson had announced that he planned on retiring at the end of the 2015 season and Mark Shapiro has been hired to take his place. Shapiro has been a member of the Indians front office since 1991, serving as GM for the 2002-2010 seasons and then being promoted to president prior to the 2011 season. Even though the Blue Jays had a 93-69 season and won the American League East a new President may want his own people with him. Everything points to General Manager Alex Anthopoulos returning next season you can never be sure. That’s where the questions have to start for the Blue Jays.

There are some easy decision; at least they look easy. 1st Baseman/Designated Hitter Edwin Encarnacion has a $10 million dollar option for 2016 you’d expect the Blue Jays to pick up. Jose Bautista has an option for next season to at $14 million. I’m pretty sure we’ll see both these guys in the Toronto line up next season. Catcher  Dioner Navarro is a free agent as is shortstop Cliff Pennington; I don’t think either player will be back with the Blue Jays next season. The rest of the position players are either under contract or will go to arbitration. The position players aren’t too big of a deal for the Blue Jays to deal with, but the starting Rotation is another story. David Price is a free agent and you’d have to think he’s looking at $30 million a season from whoever he signs with. Toronto has said that they intend to try and resign Price, but really what else did you think they would say. Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey has an option for nest season at $12 million or the Blue Jays can buy him out for $1 million. Dickey is 41 and went 11-11 with an ERA of 3.91 in 33 starts. I have a feeling the Blue Jays buy him out at $1 million and try to bring him back at a lower salary. He may not be the same pitcher who won the 2012 Cy Young for the New York Mets, but he does eat innings and a staff could use a guy like that as a #3 or #4 starter. While Dickey has an option year for the Blue Jays to deal with Mark Buehrle and Marco Estrada are just free agents like Price. Buehrle went 15-8 with an ERA of 3.81 in 32 starts last season, but wasn’t used in the post season. Buerhle will turn 37 before the start of the 2016 season and he hasn’t said if he plans to retire or not. Estrada went 13-8 with an ERA of 3.13 over 28 starts. Estrada also made 6 appearances out of the bullpen.. Estrada is 32 and those 28 starts was the most he’s ever made in a season. Toronto does have a pitcher to build around even if they lost all of these starters. Marcus Stroman is 24 and won’t reach free agency until 2021. Stroman looked very good returning from a knee injury and may have been the Blue Jays best post season starter. You’d also have to think that Drew Hutchison figures into the 2016 rotation. Hutchison who’s 25 did have a ERA of  5.57 over 30 games; 28 of which where starts he did go 13-5. The Blue Jays could be set at closer for a while as 20 year old Roberto Osuna seems to have fit into that role. Another question may be will 22 year old Aaron Sanchez continue to set up for Osuna or will he be moved into the starting rotation. Sanchez did make 11 starts in 2015; so Toronto will have to decide where his future is. The main set up core of Liam Hendricks, Brett Cecil and Aaron Loup should be back in 2016, but 42 year old LaTroy Hawkins is retiring. While Hawkins struggled greatly in the post season he was a very reliable during the regular season. Trade deadline acquisition Mark Lowe will hit free agency; so Toronto will have t make a decision on him as well.

It should be interesting to watch the Blue Jays off season and see who they try to bring back, who they decide to let go and who they try to bring in. There are reports that Toronto has money to spend this off season, so maybe some of the bigger free agents end up north of the border.

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