Projecting Next Year’s Team


Oh, they’re still in it you say? Not the best time to look towards next year? Maybe focus on the race for the playoffs the Jays are currently in?

Screw it, I’m already looking to 2015.

That’s not to say I’m giving up on this season after a couple of losses to the ‘Stros. Not at all. I apparently just like to plan out the future of my favourite baseball team.

It’s strange, in essentially every other aspect of my life there’s very minuscule amounts of planning. Going on a trip? We’ll figure out where we’re staying when we get there. Have a massive project at work? Meh, it’ll get done. Hey, it’s a Tuesday, wanna go get drunk? Sure, I’ll recover tomorrow.

But with the Jays, I’m always considering what to expect next year and the year after that.

So, what does 2015 have in store for Toronto? I have no idea.

The Jays have a lot of key players already locked up for 2015. The big bats, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion will be back, as will Adam Lind whose 2015 option I imagine will be picked up. Jose Reyes will get $22 million to play the middle infield and Canadian Jesus will be around, playing second or third one presumes.

Behind the plate, Dioner Navarro will be into his second year of a two year deal he signed with the club.

That essentially leaves two outfield spots, 2B and a left handed DH platoon with Lind.

The two outfield spots are the most interesting, I think. Cabrera’s having a fantastic year, sporting a 132 wRC+ playing left field. He’s been arguably the most consistent force in the lineup. He’s seemingly recovered from the tumour that ruined his 2013 season, and is now two years removed from the PED scandal.

Then there’s Cletus. Colby Rasmus has not had a great year, though surprisingly not as bad as one might think. His .319 wOBA and 98 wRC+ are both a far cry from last year, but they’re not as atrocious as it seems like he’s been. His ability to get on base has taken a substantial hit, even though his power has essentially remained. With a BABIP more in line with career norms, is this the real Rasmus?

With both free agents in the offseason, I’d say it’s a must that they resign one of them. While I’ve always been a Rasmus fan, it appears the smart money would be on resigning the Melk-Man.

And it may be smart for multiple reasons. The Jays have Dalton Pompey in AA New Hampshire right now. The Canadian outfielder has taken huge steps this year, and after stumbling early on in AA he’s been acquitting himself quite nicely. Signing Rasmus to a long term deal could put them in a tough spot in a year or two, if Pompey is the real deal.

Despite showing essentially no power, Anthony Gose has been able to get on base at a decent clip this year. I’m thinking the Jays may go the route of a platoon with Gose. While it hasn’t been the case this year, Chris Young has pretty decent splits against lefties in his career (.357 wOBA, 117 wRC+). Maybe sign him for a year or two, and see if he and Gose can handle CF?

That leaves the one open spot in the infield. It’s a tough one for the Jays. There aren’t many sexy options out there, unless Ham-Ram makes it to free agency. Even if he does, I can’t imagine the Jays being able to lock him up. So, I’m guessing it’s going to be some kind of a rotation between second and third or Lawrie-Francisco-Valencia-Tolleson-Kawasaki, which really, isn’t bad.

The rotation already looks somewhat set. Dickey, Buehrle, Stroman and Hutch would likely make up the top four. J.A. Happ has an option for 2015, which I imagine they’ll pick up. Brandon Morrow’s likely done as a Jay and Aaron Sanchez has looked pretty ok in the bullpen.

My guess is Happ gets the inside track, with Sanchez either in the pen or AAA to start the season, allowing the team to control his innings.

The bullpen is anyone’s guess. Aaron Loup and Brett Cecil will be back, as I imagine will be Dustin McGowan. Casey Janssen’s a free agent and I don’t feel comfortable giving him big time closer’s money. Todd Redmond’s done nothing to keep him from having a job next year.

So where does that leave us?

C – Navarro

1B- EE

2B – Lawrie/Tolleson

3B – Lawrie/Francisco/Valencia

SS – Reyes

LF – Cabrera

CF – Gose/Young

RF – Bautista

DH – Lind/Tolleson/Valencia/Young

Bench – Tolleson, Valencia, Thole, Young

SP – Dickey, Buehrle, Stroman, Hutchison, Happ

RP – McGowan, Loup, Cecil, Sanchez, Redmond, ??, ??

Actually, not bad. And certainly should be doable from a financial standpoint.

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