After spending the last few years with a right-handed heavy lineup, the Toronto Blue Jays are ready to make some serious changes according to FanRag Sports‘ Jon Heyman. Heyman is reporting that the Blue Jays have their sights set on left-handed hitting outfielders Dexter Fowler and Josh Reddick as potential offseason additions.
fowler and reddick are among players of interest for jays https://t.co/gYRnCfK8AY
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 11, 2016
Toronto will need to make major changes this offseason as Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, and Michael Saunders have all hit the free agent market. The Blue Jays extended qualifying offers to Encarnacion and Bautista but chose to not attach one to Saunders. The qualifying offer means if either Encarnacion or Bautista signs a free agent contract with another team, Toronto would then receive a compensatory draft pick and the team signing those players would lose their first-round pick.
Bautista and Encarnacion have been stalwarts in the middle of the Blue Jays’ lineup since 2009 when Toronto acquired Edwin from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for Scott Rolen before the MLB trade deadline. In his eight seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, Encarnacion has hit 239 home runs and driven in 679 runs.
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) November 10, 2016
Bautista has spent parts of nine seasons with the Blue Jays 265 home runs and driven in 701 runs. The duo helped Toronto reach the playoffs for back-to-back seasons in 2015 and 2016 for the first time since the 1992 and 1993 seasons. Unfortunately, the team got eliminated during the American League Championship Series during both years.
Encarnacion will turn 34 years old before the 2017 season, and Bautista just turned 36-years-old, which is a big part of the Blue Jays’ decision to part with the two sluggers. Another factor in the decision was trying to balance out the lineup with more left-handed hitters. Russell Martin, Josh Donaldson, Kevin Pillar, Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis are all also right-handed hitters in addition to Encarnacion and Bautista.
— SLAM! Sports (@SlamSports) November 4, 2016
To add more balance to the lineup, the Blue Jays have already signed former Kansas City Royals designated hitter Kendrys Morales. Morales hit.263 with 30 home runs and 93 RBIs last season which he parlayed into a three-year $33 million deal with Toronto that was signed on Friday.
It sounds as if Toronto’s lineup reconfiguration may just be beginning as the team reportedly has an interest in signing Dexter Fowler and Josh Reddick. Fowler spent 2016 as the lead-off hitter for the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs. He hit.276 with a.393 OBP while adding 13 home runs, 48 RBIs, and 13 stolen bases. Dexter was a major catalyst for the Cubs’ high-octane offense in the playoffs as well.
MLB Rumor Central: Will Blue Jays pursue Dexter Fowler? – ESPN (blog) https://t.co/emDyPqHf6o
— MLB Plaza (@MLBPlaza1) November 1, 2016
Reddick, on the other hand, batted.281 with a.345 OBP while hitting 10 home runs and driving in 37 runs as he spent 2016 with the Oakland Athletics before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the 2016 MLB trade deadline. Reddick largely struggled in the second-half of the season with the Dodgers as he only hit.258 with a.307 OBP, two home runs and 11 RBIs in 167 plate appearance in Los Angeles.
It remains to be seen whether the Blue Jays have interest in signing both Dexter Fowler and Josh Reddick or just one. With Kevin Pillar being one of the best defensive center fielders in the game, it would seem as if Reddick would make the most sense for the Blue Jays since he could take Bautista’s spot in right field. Fowler would likely be asked to move to left field if he were to sign with Toronto.
Any way you slice it, the Toronto Blue Jays seem to be ready to move on from two of the most prolific sluggers in franchise history. This team will likely look a lot different come opening day 2017, and we will just have to wait and see whether it’s for the good or bad.
[Featured Image by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]