Four bold predictions for this Blue Jays season
|Toronto Star 28 Mar 2019 at 04:53|
The last two years have taught us to expect the unexpected when it comes to the Toronto Blue Jays . Between the injuries â€” so many injuries â€” the suspensions, the trades, the releases, the back-and-forth over going into rebuild mode, actually going into rebuild mode, it has been a period of upheaval for the baseball club. As Toronto continues to shift gears, there is little to suggest the dust has completely settled on this project, which makes predicting what will happen in 2019 an exercise in futility. But whereâ€™s the fun in that? Here are a handful of crazy predictions for the upcoming year. Full disclosure: Weâ€™re reaching. (Or are we?)
Cavan Biggio is the first with MLB bloodlines to get the call to the big leagues
Cavan Biggio can play both the infield and outfield, versatility that could put him at the top of the list for an early recall from the minors should manager Charlie Montoyo need to shake up his roster due to injury or poor performance.Â Â (Mark Brown / GETTY IMAGES file photo)
Letâ€™s face this head on: Seeing both Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette in the big leagues this year may be a stretch. Management is already playing the service-time game with No. 1 prospect Guerrero and, if theyâ€™re looking that far down the line with one player, might not want to be re-signing two big-name free agents at the same time years from now. There is always the option to follow the Chicago White Soxâ€™s lead and go the Eloy Jimenez route by signing Guerrero and/or Bichette to a long-term deal. Itâ€™s a path general manager Ross Atkins said he is open to, but there is no evidence of serious talks. Service time wonâ€™t be such a concern when it comes to Biggio, Torontoâ€™s No. 10 prospect who had a breakout campaign in 2018. Plus, his versatility as both an infielder and an outfielder fits with manager Charlie Montoyoâ€™s strategy. If injury or poor performance were to result in a call-up, Biggio could get the nod as the Jays decide how to proceed with their bigger names.
Randal Grichuk is your 2019 Jays all-star â€” and could be traded because of it
There is no way around it: Grichuk had a terrible start to 2018. After hitting .106 in the first month, the 27-year-oldâ€™s 25 home runs for the season look even more impressive. A full year under his belt will likely mean even more long balls for Grichuk. Prediction: 32. His versatility on defence, his ability to play in right or centre field and the fact heâ€™s under club control until 2021 are all selling points. Dealing a guy still in his prime rather than unloading some of the more veteran players (weâ€™ll get to that) should mean a much better, and perhaps more timely, return for the Jays.
Brandon Drury keeps Vlad off the hot corner â€” or even off the roster
Drury hit .308 this spring and made hard plays on defence look like a cinch. Plus, the 26-year-old is driven after 2018 went up in flames because of injuries. If he gets off to a hot start at the plate, it could be an excuse to keep Guerrero down at the Triple-A level. Even if Guerrero is promoted, Druryâ€™s effortless defence could mean more time at first base or as designated hitter for the No. 1 prospect.
Enjoy your favourite players now â€” theyâ€™re not going to last
Justin Smoak, Kevin Pillar, Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez all have a good chance of being gone by August. Smoak, owed $8 million this year, seems to have picked up where he left off the past two seasons, hitting .351 with four home runs and nine RBIs this spring. Pillar, Torontoâ€™s longest-tenured player, and his solid defence have drawn interest recently and could result in a much-needed outfield prospect in return. And the thinking with Stroman and Sanchez is that healthy starts will mean more callers after both were shopped around this off-season. Donâ€™t expect the Jays to suddenly stray from the plan if Toronto is in the wild-card race near the trade deadline â€” this is a team for the future and management still needs to ship a couple of players out to better compliment its up-and-coming young core.