MLB Team News & Rumors: Toronto

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Toronto Blue Jays

Our expert from,Shawn Childs, helps you prepare for your big fantasy baseball draft.

Toronto Blue Jays Team Projection

Toronto tried to improve their team in 2013, but their pitching never materialized as Josh Johnson (2-8 with 6.20 ERA) and Brandon Morrow (2-3 with 5.63 ERA) were worthless. The Blue Jays finished 12th in the AL in ERA (4.25) and allowed the 2nd most HR's (195) in the league. For the 4th straight season, Toronto scored less runs than the previous season. Their top 5 hitters missed 262 games. The Blue Jays were 4th in the AL in HR's (185) and 8th in runs scored (712). This year, the starting lineup will look the same as 2013 with the exception of C J.P. Arencibia (signed with Texas) and their starting second baseman. Toronto signed Dioner Navarro to take over at catcher. They also added C Erik Kratz for depth via a minor trade. The Blue Jays lost OF Rajai Davis and P Josh Johnson during free agency. Ryan Goins is expected to win the starting 2B job, but he has no upside. Toronto's starting rotation is full of mediocre pitchers and injury risk. Casey Janssen will return as closer. Overall, their bullpen lacks upside arms. Toronto will hit plenty of HR's if they stay healthy, but they don't have enough talent in pitching to compete in the AL East.

1. SS Jose Reyes

Jose Reyes fantasy baseball

Reyes came out of the gates smoking in 2013. He hit .395 in his first 10 games with 1 HR, 5 RBI, and 5 SB's. Jose suffered a bad ankle injury on April 12th, which cost him the next 10 weeks of the season. Reyes had a decent 2nd half of the year (.290 with 8 HR's and 29 RBI), but his speed (10 SB's) was just about gone due to the injury. He hit .311 against RH pitching, but struggled with lefties (.247). Reyes has missed 262 games over the last 5 seasons. He is tough to strikeout (10.2%) and has been about the league average in walks over the past 2 seasons. Jose has upside in speed and runs if he can stay healthy, plus he won't be dead in HR's. His low K rate gives him a chance to be an asset in batting average. Nice major league player when he is on the field, but I'm not sure I want to invest a high draft pick on a speed player with injury risk on the wrong side of 30. Reyes has upside if you can buy him at a discount.

2. 3B Brett Lawrie

Brett Lawrie fantasy baseball

In his last 895 at bats, Lawrie has been unable to repeat the upside talent he showed late in 2011 (.293 with 9 HR's and 25 RBI). Other than a slight spark in August (.346 with 2 HR's and 13 RBI), Brett was just another mediocre major league player. He struggled against LH pitching (.219). His K rate (15.4%) is above the league average, which is a positive, but he barely takes any walks (6.8%). Lawrie had a higher K rate (18.1%) in his minor league career. Last year, he missed the first 2 weeks of the year with an oblique injury. Brett suffered an ankle injury in late May, which cost him another 6 weeks of the season. Lawrie has been a GB hitter over the last 2 seasons (50.2% in 2012 and 48.5% in 2013), but he was a fly ball hitter in 2011 (44.9%, which led to a 17% HR/FB rate. Lawrie is a big guy with speed on his minor league resume. He has been injury prone, but he is an upside talent. Brett has 20/20 upside and may end up hitting 2nd in the lineup for the Blue Jays.

3. OF Jose Bautista

Jose Bautista fantasy baseball

For the 2nd straight season, Bautista had his season cut short due to an injury. He injured his left hip on August 20th. The injury forced him to miss the last 37 games of the season. Jose was 100% healthy in November, so he should be good to go for spring training. His batting average has been short in back to back seasons, even with an improved K rate (15.9%) and a plus walk rate (13.1%). Last year, Bautista's FB rate (42.7%) was a huge step back from his previous 3 seasons (54.5% in 2010, 47% in 2011, and 49.5% in 2012). For his entire career, Jose has had a poor LD rate (15.2%). He has hit under .300 in 10 of the last 11 months over the past 3 seasons. Bautista hit .311 at home and only .213 on the road, but almost had identical HR's and RBI (14/37 at home and 14/36 on the road). I haven't been a fan of Bautista in the past and I thought his success was somewhat driven by artificial sweeteners, but I can't dismiss the growth in his K rate and his solid approach at the plate. He'll hit fly balls with the best players in the league, so his power is for real. He has 40 HR upside and his batting average has some upside if he gets off to a good start. He has one of the strongest AVH ratings in the league, but has a low batting average when he puts the ball in play.

4. 1B Edwin Encarnacion

Edwin Encarnacion fantasy baseball

Encarnacion has delivered back to back plus seasons. His season was cut short in September due to a wrist injury that required surgery. He was expected be 100% healthy by December. Edwin has 78 HR's and 214 RBI over the last 2 years with an improving K rate (10% - career best - 15.8% in his career). His walk rate (13.2%) was also a career high. Last year, he had 25 HR's and 72 RBI at the All Star break. In July and August, pitchers started pitching around him (39 walks and only 15 K's in 184 at bats). In 2012, Encarnacion had a 49.5% FB rate, but last year his FB rate dropped to 43.3%, while his HR/FB rate only declined slightly (18.7% in 2012 and 17.6% in 2013). Just like Bautista, Encarnacion has a huge AVH (1.97) and has been a plus run producer over the last 2 seasons. His improvement in his approach at the plate gives him a chance at having a huge bump in batting average. As long as his wrist is healthy, he should be poised for his best season in the majors, especially if Reyes can stay healthy. His early ADP is 18, which puts the pressure on a fantasy player to decide if he is for real.

5. DH Adam Lind

Adam Lind fantasy baseball

Lind only had part time at bats in April, but he started to show a more patient approach at the plate (12 walks and 6 K's in 45 at bats). He started hitting the ball in May (.346), but had short HR's (4) and RBI (8). His season peaked in June as he hit .350 with 7 HR's and 22 RBI. Unfortunately, he faded over the next 2 months (.224 with 5 HR's and 14 RBI), which led to him losing at bats in September. Adam found his stroke again on Sept 7th (2 HR's and 6 RBI), which led to a productive end to the season (.324 with 7 HR's and 20 RBI). Lind is a very good hitter against RH pitching (.308 with 20 HR's and 59 RBI in 369 at bats), but he has no value against lefties (.208). His K rate (19.8%) ranked near the top end of his resume, but he did have a career high walk rate (9.8). His HR/FB rate (19.2%) is very attractive, but his upside in power is restricted by his low FB rate (32.8%). Lind has enough power to hit 20 HR's, but he should only be a platoon player going forward.

6. OF Melky Cabrera

Melky Cabrera fantasy baseball

If Toronto fans had their way, Melky would have been taken behind the woodshed for a beating after stealing $16 million for the Blue Jays franchise. Cabrera probably helped the team when he went down in early August with a meniscus issue in his left knee. His results looked awfully close to his 2010 season (4 HR's and 42 RBI in 458 at bats - .354 SLG %). In other words, he was worthless without the juice. Melky had 76 singles and 20 extra base hits to give him a dismal 1.29 AVH. Cabrera was battling a knee issue prior to his injury. He also had a tumor removed from his lower back in September. Melky had a very good run for 250 games when he was flying high on HGH. This year, he will be in a contract year, but MLB will have their eyes on him as he was connected to the Biogenesis scandal in Miami. When Cabrera was at his best, he had a 15/15 skill set with some upside in batting average. He didn't have surgery to repair his knee issue and doesn't look like the same player without steroids. He needs a great spring training to earn any respect.

7. OF Colby Rasmus

Colby Rasmus fantasy baseball

Rasmus was on the way to having his best season in the majors before he suffered 2 injuries late in the year. Colby suffered a oblique injury in August and was hit in the eye by an errant throw in September. These injuries forced him to miss 45 games. His batting average matched his career high and he was on pace to set a career high in HR's and RBI. His K rate (29.5% - career high) showed no sign of improvement. Rasmus had more success against RH pitching (.284 with 16 HR's and 47 RBI), but wasn't dead in the water against lefties (.256). Colby tends to be a FB hitter (45.7% in his career). He had a career high 17.3% HR/FB rate. Rasmus has 20+ HR pop, but his high K rate is going to invite batting average risk. His speed is no longer a part of his equation. I see him as a player to avoid in 2014.

8. C Dioner Navarro

Dioner Navarro fantasy baseball

Navarro was expected to have some upside earlier in his career, but he hit his way out of the league in 2011 (.193). After a couple of injuries in Cinci in 2012, he was able to get back to the majors where he did enough to earn a back role for the Cubs in 2013. Last year, Dioner gave Chicago 240 very good at bats (.290 with 13 HR's and 34 RBI). Navarro hit over .300 in 4 months last season and hit .319 over the last 5 months of the year. He handled himself well against LH pitching in limited at bats (.361 with 6 HR's in 66 at bats). Last year, he had a smoking high HR/FB rate (18.8%), but had a low FB rate (33.7%). His K rate (13.5%) was in line with his career resume, while his walk rate (8.7%) showed more upside than earlier in his career. If his power is for real, he could be a sneaky play as a C2. I expect him be an edge in batting average and he has a chance to hit 15 HR's if he can get 400+ at bats.

9. 2B Ryan Goins

Ryan Goins fantasy baseball

I'm listing Goins at 2B by default. Toronto doesn't have a strong option at 2B entering 2014. I do not and I repeat do not believe Goins has enough talent to be an every day player in the majors. Last year, he 32 of the Blue Jays last 34 games due to injuries at 2B. His K rate (23.1%) was too high for his skill set and only walked twice in 119 at bats (1.7% walk rate). Ryan is a career .273 hitter in the minors with only 19 HR's and 30 SB's in 1931 at bats. It took him 5 seasons to make it to AAA. He did show a flash at AA in 2012 (.289 with 7 HR's and 15 SB's). Maicer Izturis has a long major league resume. He hasn't set the bar high, but Toronto will know what to expect from him. He'll give the Blue Jays solid at bats with a good glove. Goins will be lucky to make the major league roster. The best Toronto lineup would be Lawrie at 2B and Bautista at 3B, with Pillar seeing time in the outfield. Goins has no value in any format.

10. C Josh Thole

He was expected to be R.A. Dickey's personal catcher in 2013, but struggled in his 120 major league at bats (.175 with only 1 HR). Thole's power did make a step forward at AAA (7 HR's in 149 at bats with a .322 batting average). He will compete with Jeff Kratz for the backup catching job with the Blue Jays.

11. 2B Maicer Izturis

I see Izturis as the favorite to win the starting second baseman job in Toronto, unless they sign a free agent. His batting average has declined over the last 2 seasons. He has no upside in power and his speed disappeared last year. His skill set is built to be a utility player.

12. 3B Brent Morel

He was claimed off of waivers from the White Sox in December. Morel appeared to have upside earlier in his minor league career and even hit 10 HR's in 413 at bats in the majors in 2011. Along with a couple of injuries, he lost control of the strike zone, which led to his demise over the last 2 seasons. If he could transition to 2B, he would be the Blue Jays best option on the roster as of today. He has double digit power with a 25 SB season on his minor league resume. Possible flyer if he shifts to 2B.

13. OF Anthony Gose

He has electric speed (250 steals in the minors), but isn't a great base stealer (73% success rate). His K rate is 23.9% in 817 at bats at AAA over the last 2 seasons. He is a career .260 hitter in the minors with short power. As bad as all of this looks, he is still only 23. Gose has very good speed and did flash power in the minors in 2011 (16 HR's in 509 at bats). He bats left handed, so he can't earn at bats when Lind is on the bench against lefties.

14. OF Moises Sierra

His skill set is more stable than Gose and he bats right handed. Sierra showed power with the Blue Jays in 2012 (6 HR's in 147 at bats) and had an improved approach in the majors last season, which led to a .290 batting average in 107 at bats. However, his K rate (23.8%) was too high (20.1% in the minors). Moises is a career .266 hitter in the minors with 72 HR's and 77 SB's in 2606 at bats. Low upside player with no chance of earning a starting job in the majors.

15. OF Kevin Pillar

He has the best chance of being the 4th outfielder for Toronto. He is a career .321 hitter in the minors with 82 steals in 1240 at bats. While he bats right handed with a low K rate (13%), he rarely walks (6%). He has a similar skill set to Rajai Davis with more upside in power. I expect him to get at bats against LH pitching. If he plays well, he could work his way into more at bats.


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