Following the conclusion of the World Series Wednesday night, the Blue Jays officially kicked off their off season by picking up club options on utility INF Mark DeRosa, RHP Casey Janssen & 1B/DH Adam Lind followed by the reinstatement of Brett Cecil, Brandon Morrow, Melky Cabrera, Juan Perez and Miacer Izturis off the Disabled List.
Much too the chagrin of a bruised fan base, Toronto declined their option on SS/2B, Munenori Kawasaki despite the fact that the 32 year old Japanese import exceeded expectations and became a team rallying point after filling in for the injured Jose Reyes back in April.
The departure of Kawasaki should come as no surprise…
Simply put, the fan favorite made all the routine plays and his grinder approach at the plate increased his overall value during 2013 however if the Blue Jays intend on competing in the near future, they will have to upgrade their bench past Mark DeRosa and Kawasaki might not be the right fit to fill that role with the expectations put on this ball club moving forward.
One of the biggest story lines surrounding the Blue Jays during 2013 was whether or not the club wanted to move forward with Adam Lind at the end of the 2013 season.
Lind, who has been plagued with inconsistencies since breaking in to the Majors as a 22 year old, ended 2012 on a strong note after connecting with Chad Mottola in AAA. The Indiana native continued to find his stride in 2013 finishing the season with some of his best offensive numbers since his break out 2009 campaign, making the decision to exercise his option, an easy one for Alex Anthopoulos.
As it looks at this point in November, Adam Lind will be the Blue Jays starting 1st Baseman for the 2014 season.
Although Toronto can always use power from the left side of the plate, one has to ask the question when, exactly, are the Blue Jays going to start entertaining the idea of moving Jose Bautista to 1st Base.
I raise the question for a number of reasons…
1: We know his defense plays at the position.
Bautista came to the Blue Jays as (believe it or not) a utility infielder after in 2008. After being acquired from Pittsburgh, Bautista played in a total of 21 games with Toronto during that season, 8 of those games (40 innings) at 3rd, 6 at DH, 2 (16 innings) at 2nd Base and 5 (27 innings) at 1st. Jose does come with experience.
2: Age, turf and his history with injuries.
On opening day, 2014, Jose Bautista will be 34 years of age. Now in baseball, 34 might not be that old but when you mix in the fact that he has 6 seasons of SkyDome turf under his belt, perhaps the effects of playing on the dense surface doesn’t bode well for the 4 time All Star. For all we know, there could be more to the bone bruise that kept Bautista out of the Blue Jays line up for the remaining 26 games of this season. Bottom line? Turf isn’t helping his case when you take in to consideration how demanding it is to play Right Field regardless of the surface.
*Of course, playing 1st base is no walk in the park either however it does provide some protection for the legs.
3: Moises Sierra
Many baseball people are in agreeance that Moises Sierra is on the cusp of breaking out at the MLB level. Although 2013 offered only 122 Plate Appearances, Sierra appeared to have figured it out, posting an .827 OPS, 15 Extra Base Hits and nearly doubling his Walk total in 35 less PA’s. His defense? Well that’s a work in progress but the raw talent exhibited by the young Dominican Outfielder is nearly unmatched through out the Blue Jays system. If one was to argue that Jose Bautista’s howitzer of an arm is reason enough to keep him in RF, they clearly haven’t seen Sierra throw a baseball… Trust me, ask a Bisons fan if you get that chance.
Getting back to Lind, it’s not entirely outlandish to assume that the Blue Jays exercised his option with the intention of trading him at some point during the off season. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of what the 29 year old can offer and I’ve always been in his corner when it comes to some of the ridiculous non-sense so called “fans” have bantering about since 2009.
With that said, I’m also a fan of this team and I’d be willing to make any move if it got the Blue Jays closer to playoff contention in 2014.
I suppose the final question is exactly who the Blue Jays can get in return for the one time Silver Slugger? What would the off season be with out the speculation?