2018 Blue Jays Season Preview: Good News and Bad News

After two consecutive playoff appearances in 2015 and 2016, the Blue Jays endured a disappointing 76-86 season in 2017, finishing fourth in the AL East. This was mainly due to injuries to star 3B Josh Donaldson, as well as to SS Troy Tulowitzki and SP Aaron Sanchez. The Jays are looking to bounce back this season, although it doesn’t seem like fans are very optimistic they will do well enough to get a playoff spot, which is a normal state of affairs for Toronto sports fans.

As far as the Jays’ hopes for this season, I can separate the developments over the offseason and Spring Training into two general categories: Good News and Bad News.

Good News

  • Starting Rotation. After adding ex-Cardinal Jaime García in the offseason, the Jays look to have a strong projected rotation in García along with Marcus Stroman, J.A. Happ, Aaron Sanchez and Marco Estrada, as long as everyone stays injury-free (see more in the “Bad News” section).
  • Offseason Acquisitions. The Jays have made a number of moves over the offseason to acquire low-cost players to add to the team’s depth, including infielders Yangervis Solarte, Aledmys Díaz and Gift Ngoepe; outfielders Curtis Granderson and Randal Grichuk; the aforementioned SP Jaime Garcia and RP Seung-Hwan “Final Boss” Oh. I am looking forward to what the players who I previously rooted against on the Cardinals (Díaz, García, Grichuk and Oh) can do for their new team. I am also hoping Ngoepe, the first player born in Africa to make an MLB appearance, is able to make the major-league squad. It appears he and Diaz were acquired to back up the injured Troy Tulowitzki, who appeared in only 66 games in 2017.

Bad News

  • Stroman’s Discontent. After losing his salary arbitration case, Marcus Stroman took to Twitter to express his disappointment with the verdict. “Lost arbitration. Is what it is. Looking forward to going out and dealing again. The negative things that were said against me, by my own team, will never leave my mind. I’m thick-skinned so it will only fuel the fire. Can’t wait for this year! #HDMH” (emphasis added). That tweet was apparently deleted later, but Stroman made further comments on his arbitration case including:

A pissed-off Stroman doesn’t seem like a great omen for the health of the Jays’ clubhouse environment going into the coming season given that he is one of the team’s star players and leaders.

2018 Predictions

The Jays may make a decent showing this year and put together a winning season, but I don’t foresee them making the playoffs. The divisional competition in the Yankees and Red Sox is too strong, and the nature of the offseason acquisitions doesn’t point to any willingness to make a big move for a high-impact star player to bolster the roster, even though there are still many top free agents still available. We are more likely to see a trade deadline fire sale if injuries pile up and put the team too far behind its rivals.

Image: Maurizio De Mattei / Shutterstock.com