Knowing they were going to lose Edwin Encarnacion to free agency, the Blue Jays signed sluggerKendrys Morales in November to help fill his void. But the signing, and the ones that followed this winter, might make the Blue Jays lineup more dangerous than before.
The biggest problem with Toronto's lineup last season was the lack of left-handed hitters in the lineup. EnterMorales, a switch-hitter whohit 30 homers with 93 RBIs for the Royals last year andwon a Silver Slugger Award in 2015. Toronto also added switch-hitterJarrod Saltalamacchia, re-signed Jose Bautista and picked up utilitymanSteve Pearce to bolster the bench.
Torontoaddressed its weak bullpen, too,adding relieversJ.P Howell and Joe Smith, but setup manJason Grilli and his 40-year-old arm still present a problem spot in later innings.
According toBaseball Prospectus, the Jays are projected to take a step backward from last year's89-73 record and finish at 81-81 in2017. Those numbers are a bit low for ourliking; expect them to finish somewhere between last year's record and .500,in second place in the AL East, fighting for a wild-card spot in September.
Toronto Blue Jaysschedule 2017
The Blue Jaysbegin the 2017 schedule on baseball's opening dayApril 3 in Baltimore at3:05 p.m. ET. After a two-game set with the Orioles, Toronto heads south to Tampa Bay for a four-game series before itshome opener April 11 against theBrewers.
Toronto will have the chance to jump out to an early lead in the AL East as 22 of the team's first 31 games are against division rivals.
Toronto Blue Jays roster
Blue Jays projected opening day lineup
1. Devon Travis, 2B
2.Troy Tulowitzki, SS
3. Josh Donaldson, 3B
4. Jose Bautista, OF
5.Kendrys Morales, DH
6. Russell Martin, C
7.Justin Smoak, 1B
8.Kevin Pillar, OF
9.Ezequiel Carrera, OF
Blue Jays projected rotation
1. Aaron Sanchez, RHP
2.Marcus Stroman, RHP
3.Marco Estrada, RHP
4.J.A. Happ, LHP
5.Francisco Liriano, LHP
Blue Jays projected bullpen
Closer: Roberto Osuna, RHP
Setup:Joseph Biagini, RHP
Setup:Jason Grilli, RHP
Blue Jaysfantasy baseball sleeper
Kendrys Morales, DH/1B:He should also gain outfielder eligibility in fantasy, giving you a late-round slugger option with upside of 30-plus homers and 100 or more RBIs. Moving to ahitter-friendly park and surrounded by a more potent lineup will only help his numbers, but you've got to hope Moralescan improve last year's .263 average.
Blue Jaystop prospect(s)
Infielder and switch-hitter Richard Urenais ranked as the Blue Jays' No. 1 prospect, but with Troy Tulowitzkistanding in his way at the big league level, youprobably won't see the 21-year-oldthis season.
Sean Reid-Foley has the chance to be a middle-of-the-rotation starter and owneda2.81 ERA in21 games started at Single-A (advanced and full-season)last season. His best chance to crack the big-league roster mightbe in September in amiddle-inning role.