The Blue Jays roster will look a little differently when the 2017 season begins. What fantasy value do the players who are still on the team have?
The Toronto Blue Jays were partially buyers last season. They added a starting pitcher in the offseason and a traded for an All-Star shortstop halfway through the season. This propelled them to finish 93-69 and win the American League East.
The team continued their success and finished 89-73 and second in the division, but lost in the ALCS. Unfortunately, this offseason has been a complete 180. Despite signing a couple of players, the team lost a lot of key members of their roster.
The big name that will not be on the 2017 roster is first baseman Edwin Encarnacion. He signed a three-year deal with the Cleveland Indians. The team also lost two members of their bullpen, Joaquin Benoit and Brett Cecil.
The team also lost two members of their bullpen, Joaquin Benoit and Brett Cecil.
Outfielder Michael Saunders is a free agent but could return. The team offered Jose Bautista a qualifying offer, but he declined. No team has reached out to Bautista and, as a result, he’s been open to accepting a one-year deal. This makes a return to Toronto a little more likely. Looking at their offense, they could use him back.
As what happened with the Baltimore Orioles and Yovani Gallardo, rosters will change between now and Opening Day. This is the Blue Jays roster as of now, so take it with a grain of salt if you need to.
I’m making another comparison to the Orioles, but the Blue Jays rotation is good. They are just missing that standout pitcher to lead the rotation.
Maybe Aaron Sanchez can be that guy. He had a great 2016 and has a lot of years ahead of him. In 30 starts, he had a 3.00 ERA, 1.167 WHIP, and a 15-2 record. He also had 161 strikeouts and 63 walks in 192 innings.
At just 23-years-old, Sanchez can have another good season. I expect the ERA to go up a little, but he’s the No. 1 pitcher for this team.
The rest of the rotation is J.A. Happ, Marcus Stroman, Marco Estrada and Francisco Liriano. Estrada, Happ and Liriano are all at least 33 years old. While we’ve seen success from pitchers older, looking at you Bartolo Colon, I don’t see any of them having amazing seasons.
Estrada and Happ rank inside my top-250 overall players. They would make solid No. 4 options in standard leagues.
As I mentioned in the beginning, the Blue Jays lost a few pieces in their bullpen. They still have Jason Grilli as the set-up man and Roberto Osuna as the closer. The team had Drew Storen for a little but traded him away.
Grilli joined the team on June 1 via trade. In 46 games with Toronto, he had a 3.64 ERA, 1.119 WHIP and two saves. He also struck out 58 and walked 19 in 42 innings. Despite being 40, Grilli is still pitching well.
Osuna finished the season with 36 saves in 72 games. He also had a 2.68 ERA, 0.932 WHIP, 82 strikeouts and 14 walks in 74 innings. Doing that in the AL East is difficult to do. Just look at the other closers in the divisions.
A sleeper pick in this bullpen is Joe Biagini. He had a 3.06 ERA, 1.300 WHIP, 62 strikeouts in 67.2 innings. If you are in a holds league or just looking for a relief pitcher, he may be someone worth drafting with your final picks.
Grilli is not ranked, as of now. Osuna ranks as my No. 6 closer. Draft accordingly.
The infield is practically the same as last year. Russell Martin is behind the plate, Justin Smoak at first, Devon Travis at second, Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop and Josh Donaldson at third.
Martin is a power-hitting catcher, but that’s it. He hit 20 home runs and 74 RBI, but hit a lowly .231. There are a few catchers that can do it all. Martin just makes it into my top 10, but because of the power.
Smoak is now the permanent first baseman. He hit .217/.314/.391 last season. He may have some value in AL-only leagues just because of the playing time. I would stay away in all other formats.
I could say the same for Travis. He did hit .300, but doesn’t provide much else. He has no power and doesn’t get on base often, .332 OBP.
The problem with Tulowitzki is that he’s never healthy for a full season. His 131 games played are the most since 2011. When he plays, he’s great. Tulo hit 24 home runs and 79 RBI last season. I just can’t trust him enough to draft.
Donaldson is the best hitter in this offense. My only concern is if the loss of Encarnacion and possibly Bautista will affect his value. He’ll still hit 30+ home runs but his 99 RBI may drop a little. He is still my No. 4 third baseman and No. 9 overall.
Unless Bautista comes back, Kevin Pillar will anchor down the outfield. Ezequiel Carrera and recently signed Steve Pearce will flank him on either side.
Melvin Upton Jr is also on the depth chart, but after his performance in 2016, he doesn’t deserve a starting job. Though, the Blue Jays site has Upton in the starting lineup.
Pillar is the only speed option in this lineup. However, he had just 14 steals. He also had 53 RBI and a .266 average. Pillar ranks just inside my top-50 outfielders.
Pearce had success with the Tampa Bay Rays but declined with the Orioles. Let’s see how he does with his third AL East team. He finished with 13 homers, 35 RBI and a .288 average.
I don’t have much on Carrera. He doesn’t hit well, .248 average, and has no power, six home runs in 110 games.
Now, the awkward mention of the DH. The Blue Jays signed Kendrys Morales to take over for Encarnacion. He hit 30 home runs, 93 RBI and .263 with the Kansas City Royals last season. Moving to a more hitter-friendly park, he will be able to compliment Donaldson in the lineup.
The Blue Jays are an interesting team. Their pitching staff is good, but not great. I do like a couple of the arms, though. Osuna and Grilli are solid. Four of the five AL East teams have great bullpens.
The infield is a one-man show when it comes to fantasy value. The same could be said for the outfield with Pillar. Morales will still a highly-drafted hitter.
They don’t have as many bats as last year, but the ones they do have are good options.