After striking out on D.J. LeMahieu and Michael Brantley last month, the Toronto Blue Jays have followed through on the offseason promise that they would be big spenders to improve the club, but the question now is have they used their financial resources in the right place.
Following the signing of three-time All-Star outfielder George Springer to a six-year, $150 million contract, Toronto added another quality bat in infielder Marcus Semien on a one-year, $18 million deal.
Semien, 30, had a bad year coming off a career-best 33 HR season with Oakland in 2019, hitting .223, with 7 HR’s and 23 RBI’s last season. It is expected that he will shift to play second base for the Jays (who have youngster Bo Bichette at shortstop) and give Toronto an awesome batting order with Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Teoscar Hernandez, Randall Grichuk, and Cavan Biggio.
GM Ross Atkins has only been able to make tinkering moves to improve the pitching staff, re-signing deadline acquisition Robbie Ray, signing free agent closer Kirby Yates and last week acquiring lefty starter Steven Matz from the New York Mets for minor leaguer pitchers Josh Winckowski, Sean Reid-Foley and Yennsy Diaz.
Once considered a prospect in the same category as Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom, Matz struggled with injuries and inconsistency through five seasons in New York, which was capped off by a disastrous 0-5 record and 9.68 ERA with the Mets last season, but a 30-year-old reclamation project is not likely to make a big difference in the Toronto rotation.
With the shortstop market drying up with the Francisco Lindor trade to the Mets, the Jays signing Semien and Didi Gregorius going back to Philadelphia on a two-year deal, the Minnesota Twins were fortunate to find a quality fallback in free agent Andrelton Simmons.
The 31-year-old hit a career-high .297 last season with the Angels and signed a one-year, $10.5 million deal with the Twins last weekend and will provide Minnesota with great defense up the middle.
Following the addition of former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber swapping four prospects to the Pittsburgh Pirates for pitcher Jameson Taillon, the New York Yankees had closed the door on re-signing veteran Masahiro Tanaka, but instead of signing with another major league team, the 32-year-old opted to return to Japan, signing a two-year deal with the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman opted to roll the dice on two pitchers coming off injuries for the same reported price that Tanaka was looking for on a new deal, but that does not preclude the possibility the two sides will not reunite in the future.
“I feel I have unfinished business in America, and I haven’t given up on that, so they agreed on terms that would keep those options open,” Tanaka said Saturday. “Without throwing away those goals, I really want to win a Japan championship here. But there are no guarantees in this world, so my first goal is to give it all I have for this season.”