Blue Jays Morning Brew: The offseason dawns, news and notes

The Toronto Blue Jays kick off a busy offseason today with up to three vacancies in their starting lineup for 2017

Major League Baseball has closed the doors on 2016 with the conclusion of the World Series last night, but the wildest ride on the baseball calendar is just beginning.

The first major pieces of news will come with the Blue Jays qualifying offers, which are expected to be declined by Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. Canadian left-fielder Michael Saunders is a candidate for one himself, while Jason Grilli’s $3 million option for 2017 offers the Blue Jays a simple first step in their bullpen retooling.

Exploring ‘Cutch on the trade market
For BP Toronto, Kyle Matte produced an excellent long-read on the idea of the Toronto Blue Jays targeting Pittsburgh Pirates star outfielder Andrew McCutchen. After five consecutive seasons with a fWAR of at least 5.5, the former N.L. MVP came crashing back down to earth in 2016 with a value of 0.7 WAR. He’s still just 30 years old and has two years remaining on his current contract ($14 million guaranteed in 2017, $14.75 million team option in 2018).

Minor League free agents

Transactions that take place outside of the Blue Jays 40-man roster don’t earn much play in the news cycle, but they do deserve a bigger place. For Blue Bird Banter, Matt W looks at which minor league players the Blue Jays could lose to free agency this offseason and how MiLB free agency works — a very helpful tool for those fans who haven’t followed the transaction wire as closely.

Jays Nest Podcast Episode 97
The Jays Nest Podcast continues to march towards episode 100, and this week, Shaun Doyle of Jays From the Couch was joined by Alykhan Ravjiani of MLB.com to talk World Series, Kevin Pillar, the Blue Jays offseason, and much more. You can listen to the podcast here, or subscribe on iTunes and Stitcher.

On Cecil, and the haters
Andrew Stoeten puts his own spin on the year-end player features with this great piece on Brett Cecil, which asks whether or not the haters have a point. Stoeten says no, and given all that the veteran left-hander has put in to this organization over his career, he’s right.

Maxing out Joe and Roberto
For Sportsnet, Tao of Stieb looks at how the Blue Jays could maximize the value they have in Roberto Osuna and Joe Biagini without leaving the bullpen completely dry. More specifically, could they be stretched into 100-inning relievers?

I haven’t heard this name in a while…
Cole Shelton of Blue Bird Banter recently caught up with Steve Delabar, the former Blue Jays All-Star reliever who couldn’t sustain his success with Toronto. After spending time with the Cincinnati Reds and eventually the Hiroshima Toyo Carp in Japan last season, Delabar remains undecided on his home for 2017 but intends to continue playing.

Eyes on Zeuch
For Baseball America (subscription required), Shi Davidi profiles the Toronto Blue Jays’ 2016 first-round pick T.J. Zeuch. Davidi details a very important conversation that the big right-hander had with former Jays pitcher Paul Quantrill.

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