The Blue Jays are looking to add at least one corner outfielder this offseason, and are looking at several solutions to fill the open jobs.
Free agency is only a few weeks old, but already things are starting to heat up on the Hot Stove. Thursday brought news that the Houston Astros made significant moves, bringing in Brian McCann via trade with the Yankees, and signing outfielder Josh Reddick to a four-year, $52 million deal. The Blue Jays had reported interest in Reddick, so this signing could have implications for GM Ross Atkins.
The Blue Jays are among the teams in need of outfielders, and have expressed a desire to become a more well-rounded club. They are expected to chase players who thrive on defence, getting on base, and ideally, one’s who also hit left-handed to bring some balance to the order.
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Often in free agency, a signing like Reddick’s can cause a domino effect, forcing the hands of needy GM’s to make a move before the free agency cupboards are bare. We haven’t gotten there yet this off-season, but the pressure mounts a little more with each day. With that knowledge, John Morosi gave us this tidbit on Twitter this morning.
#BlueJays looking at LH-hitting leadoff men with strong OBP; Dexter Fowler (free agent) and Adam Eaton (trade) among the options. @MLB
I took a quick look at the possibility of trading for Adam Eaton a few days ago, and he would make a great deal of sense in the Blue Jays lineup. The problem with him, of course, is that he would make sense in nearly every team’s lineup, as his well-rounded skill set is highly coveted. The 27-year-old outfielder is among the game’s leaders in WAR, and is signed through 2019 with options through 2021 at a more than reasonable rate. His acquisition cost will undoubtedly be high, but he certainly fits the mould of what the Blue Jays could be looking for.
Dexter Fowler was a member of the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs, hitting at the top of the order and playing centre field. Fowler was extended the qualifying offer by the Cubs, meaning the Blue Jays or any other team would have to forfeit a first round pick in order to sign him.
Of course, Fowler comes with a ton of upside as well, offering a high OBP, above-average defence, and the ability to switch-hit. He’s been primarily a lead-off man throughout his career as well, an area that Toronto has struggled to solidify the last two seasons.
With the Blue Jays potentially losing both Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion in free agency, fans are hungry to see the team improved one way or another. Both Eaton and Fowler would offer a great deal of upside, but their acquisition cost could be more prohibitive than some realize.
The new Blue Jays front office has spoken to the desire to rebuild the prospect cupboard, and making trades and signing players with draft picks attached goes against that plan. That said, the Blue Jays are in a position to possibly contend next season, so they’ll be on the lookout for ways to improve, and both Fowler and Eaton would certainly bring a boost.