Blue Jays offseason: Why run prevention, not more offense, is the key

The Blue Jays have had elite offenses for the last few years anchored by some of the game’s premier sluggers, but have failed to get past the ALCS. Is it time to change the game plan?

It’s no secret; the Blue Jays need offense, and lots of it if they’re going to try and replace the production of Bautista, Encarnacion, and Saunders, all of whom were all-stars in 2016. 

Reunions with Bautista and Saunders are still possible, but both are very limited defensively and have an injury history. Meanwhile, players like Brandon Moss, while valuable, are not game changers that the Jays desperately need. And although there are amazing fits found in the trade market such as Charlie Blackmon and Andrew McCutchen, such a deal is extremely unlikely as Shapiro and Atkins have reinforced the idea of keeping young, controllable talent that would be needed in a blockbuster trade.

Balanced Roster Over Stopgaps

Looking at the options available, the front office should question tying up future payroll in imperfect offensive stopgaps. Instead, they should focus on creating a balanced roster that has a good rotation, vaunted bullpen, well-rounded lineup, and stellar defense, similar to Kansas City and Cleveland, recent World Series participants.

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Stack The Pitching

Shapiro and Atkins can already check off “good rotation” as Toronto boasts one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, but more depth never hurts. However, restocking the bullpen figures to be one of the main goals of the Blue Jays this offseason, and there are still a bevy of good options available from right-handed options like Holland and Blanton to southpaws like Blevins and Logan.

Adding just two of the aforementioned names to the group of Osuna, Grilli, Biagini would allow the Jays to have the shutdown bullpen that could shorten games and lessen the load on the rotation.

Speed, Defense, On-Base Abilities

On the positional side of things, Toronto should focus on  players who can get on base, have speed, and are great defenders; bringing a left-handed bat would be a plus. The lineup desperately needs overall balance and bringing in streaky power hitters with gaudy strikeout totals should be avoided at all costs.

Also, since the rotation leans towards either ground ball (Stroman, Sanchez, Liriano) or fly ball (Happ, Estrada) tendencies, elite defense should be valued at a premium to maximize run prevention.

What Is Going To Win A Championship?

With a reported ~$25 million of payroll room still left, the most optimal way for the front office to create the best possible team may be to prioritize run prevention and a well-rounded lineup. Jays fans know the luxury of a thunderous lineup filled with bat flips and parrot trots, but that hasn’t won the team a World Series ring. Instead, the Blue Jays playoff hopes have been crushed the last two years by teams with shutdown pitching and enough offense to win a game. As the old saying goes, pitching and defense wins champions, and if you can’t beat em’, join em’.

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