Most of the Blue Jays’ offseason focus has been on obtaining starting pitching, with Travis Shaw standing out as the most significant addition to the position player mix. However, Toronto has also looked into some major upgrades to the everyday lineup, as Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi reports that the Jays had interest in Didi Gregorius before the free agent signed with Philadelphia. In terms of players still potentially available, the Jays have also “checked in” with the Indians about a trade for Francisco Lindor.
It might be fair to characterize the Jays’ interest in Lindor as perhaps due diligence at this point. As Davidi put it, “any sane front office” would naturally ask Cleveland about an All-Star player who has been the subject of trade rumors for months. It doesn’t appear as though a Lindor trade (with the Jays or anyone) is happening any time soon, as both Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti and manager Terry Francona have each recently indicated that Lindor isn’t being shopped. While things could still change on that front, of course, the possibility of a Lindor deal decreased when the Tribe dealt Corey Kluber to the Rangers, thus lessening Cleveland’s payroll commitments for the 2020 season.
The multi-positional ability of young shortstop Bo Bichette and, in particular, incumbent second baseman Cavan Biggio factored into Toronto’s pursuits. Both players expressed a willingness to change positions if it helps the team, and Biggio might end up playing a super-utility role regardless of who else the Jays might add.
Interestingly, Bichette wouldn’t have been changing positions had Gregorius been signed, as the Jays planned to use Gregorius as a second baseman. GM Ross Atkins and president Mark Shapiro gave Bichette a heads-up about the Gregorius pursuit, with Bichette saying, “It was presented to me as, ’We’re going after Didi, don’t worry, we’ve already told him you’re our shortstop.’ I’d imagine that’s probably a reason why he didn’t come here.”
After also receiving interest from such teams as the Brewers, Giants, and Reds, Gregorius signed a one-year, $14MM contract with the Phillies to become their new regular shortstop. (Gregorius himself displaced an incumbent shortstop in Jean Segura, who will now handle second base duties in Philadelphia.) Toronto’s plan to deploy Gregorius at second base both indicates the club’s confidence in Bichette’s ability to handle the shortstop position and also some likely trepidation about Gregorius’ defensive ability going forward. After coming back from Tommy John surgery in the fall of 2018, Gregorius’ glovework drew dire grades from the Defensive Runs Saved (-11) and infield outs above average (-13) metrics.