There’s a component of shock any time a core participant is dealt, and that is precisely what Hernández has develop into over the previous six seasons, rising from a talented-but-flawed younger hitter right into a cornerstone of Toronto’s lineup, successful AL Silver Slugger Awards in 2020 and ’21. The Blue Jays have to be extra artistic this offseason, although, given their payroll, and this represents the begin of one thing larger.
Looking forward, the Blue Jays’ offseason now takes on a a lot totally different form.
1. Money issues: This trade is simply Part 1
Hernández was projected to earn $14 million in arbitration this offseason. That quantity is essential to this trade, and it is also why we can’t have the ability to correctly consider it till the remainder of the offseason performs out.
The Blue Jays might want to fill the gap of their outfield, after all, ideally with a bat that brings extra stability to their lineup, however that projected $14 million will also be unfold throughout the bullpen and rotation. They have been in a spot financially the place one massive transfer — or maybe two mid-range strikes — made sense. They’re now down an influence bat, however whether or not they earn a failing or passing grade on this trade will rely upon the place this new cash is spent.
2. Why Hernández and why now?
Hernández was attributable to develop into a free agent at the finish of the 2023 season, and there have been no indications that the Blue Jays have been prepared to increase him at the quantity he may probably earn in free company. Hernández isn’t an ideal participant, but when he hits the market at 31 years outdated, there can be groups that love how he matches into their lineup.
Uncomfortable as it could be, this was the Blue Jays’ alternative to maneuver on from both Hernández or Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and pivot to a extra balanced outfield. Hernández’s projected wage for subsequent season is greater than $9 million increased than Gurriel’s. You can do the math.
3. Welcome to the bullpen market
This is now what it prices to accumulate elite relievers, or at the very least relievers with the potential to be elite. Swanson, who’s 29 and has three years of staff management remaining, pitched to a 1.68 ERA final season, hanging out 70 batters with simply 10 walks over 53 2/3 innings. Pairing these numbers alongside Jordan Romano on the again finish lastly raises the ceiling of a bullpen group that is deep however in want of upside.
This can be a lesson for the Blue Jays, although. Robert Suarez re-signed with the Padres for 5 years and $46 million. Rafael Montero signed a three-year, $34.5 million take care of the Astros. Edwin Díaz re-signed for a whopping $102 million over 5 years.
It’s by no means been extra vital to develop relievers. The Blue Jays are making some extraordinarily encouraging strides on the participant improvement aspect, which is able to develop into evident in the coming years, however in an ideal world, Toronto would have discovered its personal model of Swanson internally, as a substitute of buying and selling Hernández for him.
4. Rebranding the outfield
Let’s go together with “rebrand” over rebuild right here. The Blue Jays can have George Springer and Gurriel as starters, and whereas Whit Merrifield can play the outfield and Nathan Lukes is on the 40-man roster, there’ll clearly be one other transfer made right here. This is Toronto’s alternative to stability the lineup with a left-handed bat, which has been a speaking level all yr.
Among the free-agent choices, Brandon Nimmo matches this lineup superbly. Michael Conforto is one other chance, together with Michael Brantley or the trade market, the place the Blue Jays are nonetheless energetic.
5. What comes subsequent?
Quite a bit. The Blue Jays nonetheless have the identical variety of wants, they’re simply somewhere else now.
The pursuit of an outfielder will rank close to the prime of Toronto’s checklist, and whereas their want in the bullpen has been considerably lowered with the addition of Swanson, the rotation continues to be a difficulty behind Alek Manoah, Kevin Gausman and José Berríos.
This is the place the Blue Jays will seemingly make an actual splash. Whether it’s trying on the trade market or focusing on a veteran starter on a short-term deal, the Blue Jays acknowledge that they should elevate the flooring on the again finish of this rotation. Depth is a precedence, too, after it virtually turned a serious downside final season, however Toronto’s prime precedence will likely be to land at the very least one — ideally two — respectable MLB starters.