The Blue Jays have one of baseball’s most dangerous lineups, though their projected starting nine tilts heavily to the right side. Cavan Biggio is the only left-handed hitter set to receive everyday action in Toronto’s lineup, and even Santiago Espinal is expected to spell Biggio when southpaws are on the mound. With this in mind, the Jays continue to look into left-handed hitters, with Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi writing that the club has shown interest in Michael Conforto, Joc Pederson, Brad Miller, and former Jay Corey Dickerson.
While Davidi reports that the Jays “had offers in” on the latter three names, Dickerson joined the Cardinals on a one-year/$5MM deal, Pederson went with the Giants’ one-year/$6MM offer, and Miller received $10MM over a two-year deal with the Rangers. These players all projected for platoon or part-time duty, whereas Conforto would seemingly both be in line for more of an everyday role, and at a significantly higher cost.
Such clubs as the Rockies, Marlins, Yankees, and Padres have also been linked to Conforto’s market this winter, though Colorado could be off the board after signing Kris Bryant, while the Marlins have addressed their outfield needs with Jorge Soler and Avisail Garcia. Signing Conforto would cost a draft pick since he turned down the Mets’ qualifying offer, and it does remain to be seen exactly what kind of deal Conforto will land as Opening Day nears. His market could improve as other outfielders get signed, though in the wake of Conforto’s average 2021 season, teams may still balk at committing significant money.
A multi-year contract with opt-out clauses could be an option, similar to the deal just signed by another Scott Boras client — new Twins shortstop Carlos Correa. Or, the Jays could offer Conforto a straight one-year contract worth $18.4MM (the cost of the qualifying offer), in a move similar to how Toronto landed Marcus Semien last winter. Like Semien, Conforto could see the one-year deal as a bridge to a bigger contract the following offseason, assuming that Conforto returns to his past form.
Signing Conforto would cost the Blue Jays $500K of international spending money and their second-highest pick in the 2022 draft, which would be their second-round selection. However, since the Blue Jays will be getting two extra compensatory picks just prior to the third round (since Semien and Robbie Ray rejected QOs and signed elsewhere this winter), the Jays could feel they have the draft depth to rationalize signing Conforto.
The amount of interest Toronto has in Conforto isn’t known, as Davidi acknowledges that the Jays could just be making a routine check-in on a notable unsigned free agent. Since the Jays don’t have a set DH, Teoscar Hernandez, George Springer, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and Conforto could all see regular work in the DH spot and the starting outfield spots, with Randal Grichuk getting fill-in duty as the situation warrants.
Of course, switch-hitting Guardians star Jose Ramirez continues to be a Blue Jays target, and would represent another left-handed option to balance out the lineup in a major fashion. It remains to be seen if the Jays and Guardians can finally agree on a trade package or if Cleveland will even end up moving Ramirez whatsoever, though Davidi reports that a Guardians scout was recently seen taking video of Alejandro Kirk. Since the Guards are thin at catcher now and don’t have a true catcher of the future lined up (depending on Bo Naylor’s future position), Kirk would be a logical candidate to be included as part of a potential Ramirez trade package.