Four teams remain fighting for the World Series, but that doesn't mean the Toronto Blue Jays offseason has to wait. Despite an October without baseball, Toronto baseball news keeps coming.
Here are three recent Blue Jay updates you should know:
José Ramírez Trade Update and Asking Price
Cleveland infielder José Ramírez makes a lot of sense for this Blue Jays team as a trade target. He's a switch-hitting elite bat, plays third base, and is owed just $26 million total for two more years of prime control.
He makes enough sense that the Blue Jays inquired on Ramírez at the 2021 MLB Trade Deadline, Sportsnet's Shi Davidi reported earlier this month. Wednesday, SI's Inside the Mets reporter Pat Ragazzo provided insight on what Cleveland's ask was in late July.
The Blue Jays reportedly rejected a deadline ask for Ramírez that built a package around Alejandro Kirk and "an assortment of top prospects and major league players," per Ragazzo's source.
In their post-season media availabilities, executives Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins both identified lineup diversification as a key goal for this Blue Jay offseason. Alongside defensive versatility and his ability to switch-hit, Ramirez's approach at the plate is vastly different from most of Toronto's hitting core.
The Jays saw the third-fewest pitches per plate appearance last season (3.83), while Ramírez ranked fifth in baseball in Pit/PA (4.21). Tigers outfielder Robbie Grossman, who Davidi also identified as a Blue Jay trade target, ranked sixth in the category.
Arizona Fall League Blue Jay Prospect News
Toronto sent seven prospects to the Arizona Fall League, but top youngster Gabriel Moreno didn't get into action until the Mesa Solar Sox's sixth game of the schedule. The catcher had been dealing with thumb soreness following mid-season surgery and was working out at Toronto's development complex in the meantime. The soreness is considered normal, per a team source, and Moreno joined the AFL on Wednesday with a strong debut.
Here's how the seven players the Jays sent to Arizona have fared thus far:
C Gabriel Moreno: 2 AB, .000/.600/.000, 3 BB
INF Leo Jimenez: 7 AB, .143/.333/.143, 0 XBH
INF Spencer Horwitz: 16 AB, .375/.444/.375, 4 RBI
RHP Michael Dominguez: 3 IP, 9.0 ERA, 6K 3BB
RHP Cre Finfrock: 3.1 IP, 2.7 ERA, 4K 4BB
LHP Brody Rodning: 2 IP, 0.0 ERA, 3K 1BB
RHP Graham Spraker: 2.2 IP, 0.0 ERA, 5K 1BB
Will The Blue Jays Qualify Steven Matz?
The bulk of Toronto's early offseason attention has been paid to Robbie Ray and Marcus Semien, and with their brilliant 2021s and the money they'll command, rightfully so. But, while Ray and Semien's decisions could linger long into the winter, the Jays have a choice to make on another free agent.
Left-handed pitcher Steven Matz sits right on the cusp of a qualifying offer — a one-year, ~$19 million offer that could earn the Blue Jays draft pick compensation if the lefty rejects. Matz's 2021 with Toronto (150.2 IP, 3.79 FIP, 2.8 WAR) was worth $22.1 mill in free agency per FanGraphs, and the starting pitcher finished the season allowing more than two runs just once in his final 11 starts. However, ZiPS' 2022 projections slate Matz to post a 4.82 ERA and be worth just 1.3 WAR and there are clear 2017 and 2020 blips on the 30-year-old's track record.
One-year deals come with little risk and the draft pick compensation if Matz rejected the QO would be valuable. But, members of the Blue Jays front office remained undecided on a Matz qualifying offer in the final days of the 2021 season and have just a few weeks to make the choice.
The Blue Jays must formalize a qualifying offer to Semien, Ray, and Matz (if they so choose), prior to free agency, and the three players will have 10 days to talk with other organizations before electing to accept or decline the one-year deal.
H/T Shi Davidi, Pat Ragazzo