The Toronto Blue Jays 2018 season was not great but compared to some other teams it wasn’t terrible. They finished 4th in the AL East with a 73-89 record. They are just two years removed from a trip to the ALCS. But the team heading into 2019 looks nowhere near how it did back in 2016. Names like Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Josh Donaldson are no longer with the team. Not to mention guys like Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin who found new clubs this offseason.
The Blue Jays offseason has been quiet on 2019. No major signings and no big acquisitions. The biggest move that they made was sending catcher Russell Martin to the L.A. Dodgers. In that deal, they got INF Ronny Brito and RHP Andrew Sopko.
They signed a few free agents to help the pitching side of things in David Phelps, Clay Buchholz, and Matt Shoemaker. Phelps will be a guy that helps in the bullpen and Buchholz and Shoemaker will compete for a spot in the rotation.
Who’s on the team?
The team has a small number of players on the team now that were on the team 3 seasons ago. The most notable of those names is Kevin Pillar. Pillar has been with the team since he made his debut back in 2013. He is the team’s primary center fielder and he is known for having one of the best gloves in the league. He’s an okay hitter, a career .261 batting average, but he doesn’t strike out a whole lot and he knows how to make his way around the basepaths.
Justin Smoak is another guy that he’s been with this team for a few years. He’s spent nine years in the big leagues and has spent four with Toronto. Smoak will be the team’s primary first baseman. His batting average isn’t great but he does know how to take walks. His power is also starting to come along. He has 63 home runs over the past two seasons.
The Blue Jays now have a quality closer in Ken Giles whom they acquired from the Astros last season. He has a 2.81 ERA with three teams over his five years in the MLB.
The Kid Toronto Wants to See
The Toronto Blue Jays have the #1 prospect in all of baseball. Vlad Guerrero Jr. will be 20 years young opening day. Unfortunately, he will more than likely not be with the Blue Jays to begin the season.
— SBR Sports Picks (@SBRSportsPicks) March 3, 2019
If you don’t know who Vlad Guerrero, Jr. is then something is wrong with you, because this kid has been one of the hottest topics in baseball over the past few seasons. He started last season with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats who are the Blue Jays AA affiliate. In 61 games with New Hampshire, he posted a .402/.449/.671 slash line. He hit 14 home runs and only struck out 27 times while walking 21 times.
He earned himself a mid-season promotion to AAA Buffalo. He posted a .336 batting average with a .414 on-base percentage with 6 home runs in 30 games. Not to mention his 15 walks compared to only 10 strikeouts.
Vlad Guerrero, Jr. is someone that not only Blue Jays fans should be excited for, but MLB fans as a whole should be excited to watch him. Vlad Jr. is a third baseman and should eventually play there in the majors. His glove still needs a touch-up but his bat has been MLB ready for some time. It will be a few weeks into the season before we get to see Vlad Jr tear covers off baseballs, but it will definitely be worth the wait.
Other Young Pieces
In addition to Vlad Jr., there are a number of other guys that the Blue Jays have that are either up with the team already or are close to being with the team either this year or next year. Bo Bichette is the one guy that could be up sometime this year and he may end up being a September call up. But it is probably safe to say he won’t be with the team for the majority of the year.
Of guys that are currently on the roster, Danny Jansen really jumps out. Jansen is currently the #65 prospect in baseball and #3 catching prospect according to MLB Pipeline. He played in 31 games with the Blue Jays last year and posted a .247/.347/.432 slash line. He also manages to hit 3 home runs. Jansen will be the team’s primary catcher this season after the departure of Russell Martin.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) September 21, 2018
The other guy is outfielder Teoscar Hernandez. Hernandez will be entering his 4th season in the big leagues. He made his debut with the Houston Astros back in 2016 and was traded to the Blue Jays during the 2017 season. He has career .241/.303/.479 slash line. He strikes out at a fairly high rate but also hit 22 home runs last season. Hernandez can play any outfield position but is best suited for left or right field.
The Blue Jays will end up being a below average team this upcoming season. There is not much hope for success this season but Vlad Guerrero Jr. brings hope for the future. The pitching staff has a mix of future young guys with some vets that can help those young guys progress.
Blue Jays fans will need to have patience. Give the team a few years and they should be back to contending in a few years. The young prospects will some come full circle and there are a few pitchers in the organization that have some high upside.
At the end of the day, Vlad Guerrero Jr. will be the main reason that people will watch Blue Jays games this season.
The Blue Jays rookie of the year award will go to Vlad Guerrero Jr. and there is a strong case that he will end up being the AL rookie of the year. He will be the favorite going into the season bearing any major changes.
The team Cy Young should be Marcus Stroman, mainly due to the fact he has been one of the team’s better pitchers for a number of years. The team MVP will be either Kevin Pillar of Vlad Guerrero Jr. Pillar could be a candidate because he provides a good combination of offense and defense. Vlad Jr. could be a candidate because there is a chance he could take the league by storm and cement himself as the new face of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Final Prediction: 69-93
Team MVP: Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.