The Blue Jays will finally, finally, make their long-awaited return to playing baseball in Toronto on Friday.
They haven’t played at the Rogers Center since September 29, 2019, when they beat the Rays 8-3. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Jays played in Buffalo during the 2020 season and spent the first half of the 2021 season in Dunedin (their spring training home) or Buffalo (their Triple-A stadium).
As you can imagine, they are excited to go home.
“He’s definitely been on everyone’s mind recently,” shortstop Bo Bichette told Sporting News in Denver during the All-Star holiday as rumors of a possible return to Canada began to mount. “At the beginning of the year, no, not really. It’s something we can’t control, so the more we focus on it, the more attention we take away from the game and perform to the best of our abilities. Lately, for sure. “
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The news of The Blue Jays’ return to Toronto was officially announced within days. after the events of the All-Star Game, a “national interest travel waiver” granted by the federal government.
“I think we owe it to the city to go back and play there,” said Marcus Semien in Denver, “and I hope the fans have that energy for a push in the second half.”
The Jays announced that 15,000 fans, about 30 percent of capacity, will be allowed to attend the games, and the the roof will be open whenever possible, depending on the weather. Other ventilation measures will also be incorporated.
These Blue Jays return to Canada as a very different team than the one that last played at the Rogers Center. That long-ago win over the Rays ended Toronto’s season with a 67-95 record, as the young, untested, talented rebuilding team experienced growing pains. But the Blue Jays made the playoffs in 2020 and are in the mix for a playoff spot again in 2021, going 50-48 heading into Thursday’s contest in Boston.
They are 10 1/2 behind the Red Sox in the AL East, a formidable hill, but only 4 1/2 behind the AL second wild-card spot.
Momentum isn’t something you can make out of thin air, of course, but it seems like the right time for the Blue Jays to put in a lot of effort, before MLB’s trade deadline hits 4 p.m. ET on Friday. Think about it: What better way to celebrate a return to Canada than by bringing back some new faces to help with the playoff momentum?
“We want to win. I trust the main office, ”Bichette told SN. “They have done a very good job so far in putting together a group of great young players on our team. We will continue to play hard, but it’s definitely exciting to think that we could be even better. “
This has to happen, and not just because of the return to Toronto. This is a legitimately good team, with a few flaws that have kept them hovering around the .500 mark. Fix those flaws around players like Semien, Bichette and fellow All-Stars Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Teoscar Hernandez, and that’s a team capable of not just making the playoffs, but winning the series in October.
The Blue Jays made a move Thursday afternoon to shore up their bullpen, landing Brad Hand from the Nationals. But that’s not the kind of splash worthy of celebrating homecoming. Think big.
We’ve seen a blockbuster deal or two have positively impacted the Blue Jays in the past. Remember the deal with the Padres in December 1990? The Jays sent Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez to San Diego for Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter. That wasn’t a deadline deal, of course, but those two helped lead the Blue Jays to World Series titles in 1992 and 1993.
The deadline deals Jays fans remember happened right before the July 2015 deadline, when they traded for David Price and Troy Tulowitzki. The Blue Jays were 53-51 at the end of July, then went 40-18 the rest of the way, won the AL East and advanced to the AL Championship Series. I’m not saying that similar deals have similar results, but the track record is there.
Joey Gallo would have been ideal as a left-handed slugger in a predominantly right-handed lineup, but he went to the Yankees, which hurts because the Blue Jays are directly competing with the Yankees for a playoff spot. So what are your options?
Max Scherzer, SP
Why it fits: Not that the Blue Jays’ starters have been bad, but there isn’t a single team in baseball that doesn’t improve immediately with the addition of the three-time Cy Young winner who is still striking out hitters at a crazy rate even in his game. age. 37 season. Maybe that’s less likely since they just made a deal with the Nationals for Brad Hand, and they didn’t expand the deal to include Scherzer. Or, maybe the Blue Jays, like everyone else, wanted to see what Scherzer looked like in Thursday’s outing after he was last eliminated. It’s also worth noting that Scherzer has no trading power, and he likely won’t give up that right for the Blue Jays, who are currently on the outside looking into October. It makes sense that he wants to go to a team that is guaranteed to make the playoffs.
José Berríos, SP
Why it fits: Again, it’s not an indictment against Toronto’s rotation, but a nod to how good Berrios is and how he would raise the Blue Jays’ playoff hopes. Unlike Scherzer, who will be a free agent after the season, Berrios has one more year of control of the club, and that is attractive to the Blue Jays, who will be contenders again in 2022 (and several years later, with their outstanding core of young players). ). It would be expensive, in terms of required players / prospects, but it is an elite starter that would be worth the cost.
Kris Bryant, 3B
Why it fits: He is the best bat available on the market, and his versatility – he can be a starter in the corner of the infield or in the corner garden position, and he can also play in center field – makes him attractive to almost every contender.
For the Blue Jays, however, his value would be at third base, where young Cavan Biggio hasn’t developed as well as Bichette or Vladimir Guerrero Jr., it could be a bit of a controversial move, because Biggio is seen as third baseman for the Blue Jays. club. of the present and the future, but Bryant would be an undeniable improvement over Biggio, who has just seven home runs, an OPS of .686 and 0.2 bWAR this year (Bryant at 18, .861 and 2.2).
Craig Kimbrel, RP
Why it fits: The bullpen hasn’t been very good in 2021, but it’s better now than at any time this season. The Blue Jays traded for Adam Cimber and Trevor Richards in separate deals a few weeks ago, and both have been solid. They just traded for Hand, who has 21 saves this year, as we mentioned. And Jordan Romano has been solid as a closer, with eight saves on nine chances. But add Kimbrel to the bottom of the bullpen, with the way he’s been pitching this year (0.49 ERA, 15.7 K / 9) and suddenly the bullpen becomes a fortress. Kimbrel has a club option for 2022 that is not cheap, but worth it if he launches like this.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.