The Toronto Blue Jays have quietly put together the very best all-round offseason of any team in all of baseball.
Save for the massive free agent contracts handed out by New York and Boston to retain the services of their star players Aaron Judge and Rafael Devers, respectively, five clubs added significant pieces this offseason, including: Jacob DeGrom (Rangers), Justin Verlander (Mets), Trea Turner (Phillies), Xander Bogaerts (Padres), Dansby Swanson (Cubs), not to mention the seemingly never-ending Carlos Correa contract fiasco, which ultimately resulted in a six-year deal with the Minnesota Twins.
But away from the lights, confetti and smoke machines the Blue Jays very well may have been the most productive of all teams this winter.
Oh right, the offseason isn’t even over yet.
In moving on from all outfields not named George Springer, the Jays traded away/DFA’d fielders Teoscar Hernandez, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Raimel Tapia, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Bradley Zimmer, while also sending away prospect Gabe Moreno to Arizona in the trade that brought Daulton Varsho to Toronto’s outfield. A place where he will suit up alongside Springer and fellow offseason acquisition Kevin Kiermaier.
“We’re exceptionally excited about how these guys we’ve acquired this year go about their business,” general manager Ross Atkins said. “Their competitiveness, their focus on the process, their focus on being good teammates.”
January also saw the addition of veteran infielder Brandon Belt on a one-year deal following his clean bill of health, stemming to recovery following ongoing knee issues.
The starting rotation and bullpen also saw significant growth, as 2022 bright spot Ross Stripling opted to cash in via free agency, leaving the Jays the option of bringing in Chris Bassitt from New York. The bullpen saw serious change, as Erik Swanson, Drew Hutchison, Adam Macko, Paul Fry, Julian and Junior Fernandez each joined the squad in various relieving roles.
“You could argue the rotation is top-five. We think it is. We’ll continue to think about ways to improve it,” Atkins added. “We have one of the best bullpens in baseball at this point, certainly from a depth perspective. It’s top-five in our point of view.”
The most recent addition is that of Chad Green – another reliever to whom has given Toronto problems in the American League East dating back to 2017. Having played his entire seven-year MLB career in New York with the Yankees, Green underwent Tommy John surgery last May, and will miss a significant chunk of the 2023 season, but Toronto is playing the long game in his recovery and with his hopeful return at some point in during the second half of the year.
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Green, now 31, signed with a unique contract structure, crafted as a way for the Jays to observe his rehab and progress, with the hopeful projection on how much he will be able to contribute to the team this coming year as well as 2024 and beyond. Officially a two-year deal worth $8.5 million, Green’s second year is a player option conditional year that he can use only if Toronto declines its three-year club option, meaning the contract would carry through the 2026 season. If neither side opts in on either option, Toronto would revert to the two-year club option. Ultimately, the contract could be worth as much as $29.25 million over a span of four seasons.
Green‘s hope is to serve as a part of the Jays’ bullpen at some point this year. In being a reliever, his recovery from Tommy John is slightly shorter than that of a starting pitcher, however, there is no expectation for Green to join the active roster until at least the midway part of the season, to which he is expected to serve as some sort of setup man for closer Jordan Romano.
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The right-hander began 2022 with a solid 3.00 ERA and 16 strikeouts over 15 innings pitched, before leaving a May 19 game against Baltimore with discomfort in his right forearm.
“He’s on that very short list of outstanding relievers in our sport,” New York’s Aaron Boone said following his injury. “He’s been so consistent. He’s such a rock for us. He’s just a consistent pitcher, person, so reliable and an important part of our team and that room.”
In seven seasons, Green has a 33-22 record to go alongside a 3.17 ERA. He has 11 saves and 53 holds to his name. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound hurler has struck out 494 total batters and walked just 96 in 384 innings pitched. 2021 was his best season, where he put up 10 wins. Green has a career WHIP of 1.022 and 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. He has operated solely out of the bullpen for New York since 2020.
Once healthy, Green will join a bullpen headlined by Jordan Romano, where he will jockey for relief work alongside Anthony Bass, Tim Mayza, Adam Cimber and Yimi Garcia as a setup man.
In order to make the signing official, Toronto designated left-hander Matt Gage for assignment. He went 0-1 with a 1.38 ERA over 13 innings last year for the Blue Jays.
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