While the hunt to the playoffs is not over, Toronto will find out in the coming weeks whether or not their group has what it takes to get back into the picture. However, looking into the future, what will Toronto’s team look like as early as next season?
We have all come to assume that young players such as Drew Hutchison, Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez along with the veterans Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle will stick around. Buehrle will be a free agent in 2016, while Bautista, Encarnacion and Dickey all have club options. That is for another day.
This off-season will have Toronto facing a lot of interesting decisions. Depending on what happens at the end of the season, one would have to think that some changes could, and likely should, be made. Names like Melky Cabrera, Colby Rasmus, Casey Janssen are all set to become free agents while Brandon Morrow, J.A. Happ and Dustin McGowan have club options. I will use my opinion and go through these names to determine whether or not I believe they will be back next year.
LF Melky Cabrera
Cabrera was brought in two years ago when everyone expected the Jays to be top tier World Series contenders. After an MVP like season with San Francisco, Cabrera was suspended due to the use of testosterone and failed to make it onto the Giants playoff roster. The Jays came calling and during the 2013-14 season and Cabrera admittedly had his share of struggles due to a tumor in his back. Fast forward to now and he’s been the Jays best overall producer at the plate with terrific defense in the outfield. At only 29 years of age, Cabrera still has a ton of good baseball left. He will likely demand a whole lot and it remains to be seen if he’ll want to test the market, but if I were Toronto management I would do whatever I can to bring him back.
CF Colby Rasmus
Rasmus has had his fair share of inconsistencies during his time as a Blue Jay. I personally have my own opinion on him as a player but I won’t dive into details. I will say though, I think it’s time for a change in CF. Rasmus was brought in via trade in 2011 with St. Louis while many at the time dubbed him a potential star in CF with untapped talent. Since 2011, Rasmus has 512 strikeouts, which would rank near the top of the leagues worst. He hasn’t hit over .276 during his time in Toronto, and his commitment on and off the field comes into question at times. Whether it be giving Anthony Gose a chance to be their starter in CF, looking at another option from the free agent market, or allowing top prospect Dalton Pompey a chance to show what he’s got, I think it’s best if Toronto let Rasmus walk.
RP Casey Janssen
Janssen has been a terrific Blue Jay for the past handful of years. Once a starter, Janssen turned into a reliever a few years ago and has since been one of the most consistent arms in their bullpen. After a great year as a setup man in 2011, he became the club’s closer in 2012 and has never looked back. Since then he has 75 saves (and will likely get more after this year) and has put together an impressive combined ERA of just under three. This season and lately, he has been roughed up on the mound and 2014 would count as his least successful since becoming a closer in 2012. Janssen has said he wants an opportunity to win as he voiced his opinion after the Jays failed to make any moves at this year’s deadline. I don’t know if he would want to be back, but with no sure fire replacement set in stone, I would assume the Jays would make him an offer. Personally though if I had to guess, I would say Janssen tests the market in 2015.
RP Dustin McGowan
McGowan has been a great story for years. After missing the 2009, 2010 and 2012 season with nagging shoulder injuries, the Jays stood by McGowan and allowed him to prove his worth out of the bullpen. After appearing in 25 games last year, McGowan did indeed show he could be a viable option as a reliever. Admittedly he’s had his struggles this year with his command and his ERA at 4.08, but overall you can’t really complain. He has a four million dollar club option and again, who knows what the Jays intentions are. Guys are easily replaced out of the bullpen but one would have to think with his history as a Blue Jay, Toronto picks it up.
SP Brandon Morrow
I’ll keep this one quick. When Morrow is healthy, and I mean fully, he’s an inconsistent but powerful arm in the rotation. Unfortunately, his injury problems have outweighed his success in Toronto. He has an option for next year and I think it’s fair to say the Jays let him go.
SP J.A. Happ
Happ, like Morrow, has an option for next year. He’s had a pretty good season in Toronto and he’s remained healthy, which is a major plus. The Jays could opt to sign him to a reasonable deal as a depth pitcher in the rotation. However due to his inconsistencies on the mound along with Aaron Sanchez likely ready to be a starter next season and the emergence of Marcus Stroman and Drew Hutchison, I think Happ looks at other options come 2015.