We’re going north of the border this time around as we take a look at the Blue Jays. Toronto has put together one of the better young cores in the league and look to take a step forward in 2021. Can they do it?
Key Additions: Marcus Semien, George Springer, Kirby Yates, Steven Matz
Key Subtractions: Travis Shaw, Taijuan Walker, Jonathan Villar, Ken Giles
They Blue Jays are back in Toronto in 2021 after having to play the Year of Covid at one of the organization’s Minor League sites. They hope to use the home cooking they were missing last year to propel them from a team on the rise to a team in legitimate contention. Their young core has proven to be solid with Vlady Jr. yet to really establish himself. Considering the veteran additions made, this a dangerous team. If you’re looking for a fun team to watch this season, this would be the one.
The team kicked off the offseason with the signings of Springer, Semien, and Yates. They were one of the more aggressive teams when it came to improving their roster and this trio of veterans should do just that. Springer carries a big stick while profiling as an above average centerfielder. He had one of the better seasons of his career in 2020 and should be able to carry that high-end production to Toronto. With Ken Giles gone, Yates will be the team’s go-to guy coming out of the pen in late-game situations. He’s proven to be one of the better relievers in the league over the past few years and Toronto needs him to do it again.
Semien is someone I am not as high on, but the move seems like a decent one. Marcus plays a ton of games and can do a little bit of everything, but he’s a bit overrated. He had one stellar season in 2019 where he was a MVP candidate, but every other year hasn’t been that good. Per Baseball Reference, he’s never been able to be an average hitter in a season outside of his 2019 campaign. He’ll be moving from shortstop to second base this season given Bichette’s claim on the former so that may help him be a bit more productive when compared to his contemporaries. This is certainly a big move, but I’m not so sure it was a good one.
What it all comes down to for the Blue Jays this year is the young guys. How ready is the teams young core to compete? They may say they’re ready, but only their play on the field will show whether or not that’s true. For as good as the youngsters have been, I still hold some reservations. Guerrero Jr. hasn’t been quite the player people thought he’d be early on, Cavan Biggio’s batted ball data tells me some of his production has been fluky, and I’m still unsure of Bichette sticking at short long-term. There’s obvious talent amongst the team’s young core and they have plenty of time left to grow into absolute studs, but I’m not sure it happens in 2021. If this team is going to win, it’s going to be on the backs of Vlady Jr., Bichette, Biggio, Nate Pearson, and Lourdes Gurriel.
Many people see this team taking the kind of leap the White Sox did last season. That’s reasonable, but I still feel a little too concerned to jump on the bandwagon. This team has the talent to compete for the AL East crown and make a run in October. Will they, though?