If it’s any consolation, the Blue Jays were the last wild card standing. OK, so that and about $11 will get you a ballpark Labatt, which you should refrain from throwing at an opposing player.
The window of opportunity is beginning to close for this franchise after consecutive ALCS appearances, but it won’t completely slam shut this offseason.
With a strong rotation -- Aaron Sanchez, J.A. Happ, Marcus Stroman, Marco Estrada, Francisco Liriano -- in place, the focus will be on the offense. And the bats won’t come cheap.
Pick a slugger, preferably the younger one
With Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista both headed for free agency, Toronto’s powerful lineup could be missing two of its biggest bashers next season.
Joey Bats has made it pretty clear that his price tag is going to be ridiculously huge for a 36-year-old. Encarnacion, who will turn 34 in January but is second in MLB with 193 homers since 2012, still has a few prime years – something that plenty of suitors realize and the Blue Jays should prioritize.
Even with Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki returning, Toronto can’t afford to lose both Bautista and Encarnacion.
Don’t overspend on Saunders
Michael Saunders is coming off a career year and will get plenty of attention on the free-agent market. The first-time All-Star is valuable for his bat and his outfield glove, but the Blue Jays should avoid any sort of bidding war for the Canada native -- even if they lose Bautista in right field.
Saunders’ offense dropped off dramatically (.178/.282/.357, eight homers, 15 RBI) after the All-Star break, and he eventually lost playing time to Ezequiel Carrera and Melvin Upton. Toronto can get much more bang for its free-agent buck.
Retain or replace the setup crew
The Jays are one of the few teams that don’t have a glaring rotation need -- and it’s a good year to not be in that position given the scarcity of quality free-agent starters. However, Joaquin Benoit and Brett Cecil are free agents and Toronto has an option on Jason Grilli (pictured). That trio is a big part of the bridge to young closer Roberto Osuna.
The free-agent reliever market is deep this year, so the Jays could shop for some veterans if they choose to let theirs explore other options.