In the wake of the pending mega-trade between the Marlins and Blue Jays, more of the analysis seems to be focusing on the negativity on the Miami side than on exactly what the Jays have done: make themselves into, on paper, an instant contender.
Games aren’t played on paper, of course, but assuming the trade is completed/approved, than solely based on their currently contracted or controlled roster, the 2013 Blue Jays could look like this:
LINEUP: SS Jose Reyes, 3B Brett Lawrie, RF Jose Bautista, 1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion, DH/1B Adam Lind, LF/CF Colby Rasmus, C John Buck or JP Arencibia, 2B Maicer Izturis, CF/LF Rajai Davis
BENCH: UTIL Emilio Bonifacio, C Buck/Arencibia, INF Mike McCoy, OF Anthony Gose or Moises Sierra
ROTATION: RHP Josh Johnson, LHP Mark Buehrle, LHP Ricky Romero, RHP Brandon Morrow, LHP JA Happ
BULLPEN: RHP Sergio Santos, RHP Casey Janssen, RHP Esmil Rogers, RHP Steve Delabar, LHP Darren Oliver, LHP Luis Perez, seventh from one of many under contract
That’s not a bad collection of talent, and that’s not counting any more potential moves – and barring them pulling a surprise and going after one of the top outfielders (Hamilton, Bourn, Upton) or a marquee pitcher, there are a lot of small moves that they could make to bolster their squad.
In the rotation, the Jays could choose to find a veteran fifth starter-type on a one (or even two) year deal to compete with Happ and/or serve as a fallback if Johnson gets hurt, Romero falters, etc. – a move that would also allow them to forget about trying to perhaps rush Dustin McGowan, Kyle Drabek, or Drew Hutchison back from their injuries at any point in 2013.
In the bullpen, they could try to re-sign late-inning arms Jason Frasor or Brandon Lyon, look to bring back swingmen Carlos Villanueva and Aaron Laffey (which could serve the above as well) or find a veteran option (perhaps one with closing experience, like Kyle Farnsworth or even Juan Carlos Oviedo) who can be a fallback if Santos/Janssen struggle.
In the lineup, the flexibility offered by Bonifacio, Izturis, and to a lesser extent the Encarncion/Lawrie/Bautista trio means they could eschew looking for a more traditional fourth outfielder or utility guy, instead looking for an Andruw Jones or Eric Chavez-type player (perhaps lefty-killer Scott Hairston to quasi-platoon with Rasmus) to exploit their splits.
And, to top it all off, the Jays have Gose and/or Sierra and two other top prospects in catcher Travis d’Arnaud and first baseman Mike McDade to stash in Triple-A, so if any of them has a solid season, they could be traded (or could allow others blocking them to be traded) to fill a hole.
All in all, the point is this: again, they don’t play games on paper, but in a division where the Red Sox are rebuilding, the Yankees face a ton of tough decisions on the eventual road to their $189 million goal, the Rays are faced with losing some key contributors, and the Orioles now have expectations, the Jays already look like they could make some noise in 2013.