The Blue Jays have stated they have a serious desire to be faster and more athletic next season. This is all fine and dandy, but where exactly is this speed and athleticism going to come from when Toronto is already one of the slowest teams in the American League.
Assuming that Teoscar Hernandez takes over the starting duties in right field, even with his speed and athletic gifts, Toronto still remains both slow and old. With guaranteed starters like Troy Tulowitzki, Kendrys Morales, and Justin Smoak amongst the slowest players in the league, if Toronto does wish to get faster, they’ll need to inject some extremely fast players to counter the painfully slow starters they already have.
In 2017, the only players who could use their legs to make a difference on the bases were Kevin Pillar and Ezequiel Carrera. Even then, Pillar was the only starter with any serious speed. The addition of Hernandez certainly adds some much needed speed, but one additional fast/athletic player isn’t enough for Toronto to really take full advantage of their running game.
As things stand, it’s looking like left-field will yet again be filled with a platoon of Steve Pearce and Carrera next season. This is one of the few positions where Toronto may be able to infuse some speed. For a team that’s already too old and slow, Pearce definitely doesn’t help in that regard, but he’s still good enough and probably has a contract that can be moved. If the Blue Jays could trade Pearce this off-season, it would allow them to go out and spend a little money on a free agent like Lorenzo Cain. As great as it would be for the Blue Jays to bring in a talent like Cain, he won’t come cheap, and will likely be in the market for a 5-year deal, even though he’s turning 32 next April.
If Toronto can’t manage to swing a deal for Cain, their next best option to add a well-rounded player with speed might be to go after Eduardo Nunez and have him be their utility infielder. Utility infielder on the Blue Jays isn’t what it is on other teams…not knowing how Tulowitzki’s or Travis’ health will hold up, Toronto’s utility infielder may be required to play 140+ games next year.
The good news is, Toronto should be a fair bit faster and athletic in 2018. They know they already have Hernandez, the big question is how much faster and athletic do they want to be. And from the sounds of it, that question will be answered by which free agents they go out and sign this winter.