Photo by: Charlie Martin
The Toronto Blue Jays made a plethora of changes in the 2022 offseason after a disappointing season last year that saw them lose in the Wild Card Series to the Seattle Mariners. General Manager, Ross Atkins decided that they needed to make some changes if they were going to be successful in the postseason and those changes included moving some of their offensive weapons for more defensively sound outfields and buffing up the pitching staff.
Atkins moved outfielder Teoscar Hernandez for right-handed reliever Erik Swanson and pitching prospect Adam Macko. Swanson is a 29-year-old who had a 1.68 ERA and 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings in 57 appearances with the Mariners in 2022.
He misses bats with his deceptive four-seam and split-finger fastball combination that saw opponents hit only .162 against those two pitches last season. He is the perfect reliever for high-leverage innings and will most likely be the 7th or 8th-inning pitcher in winnable games this year.
The Blue Jays also parted ways with outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and top prospect Gabriel Moreno in exchange for outfielder and catcher Daulton Varsho. Varsho is an elite fielder using his athleticism, speed and hard work which led to him leading the MLB in runs prevented, (+14) and outs above average (+16).
He is also a great hitter as he has a short, strong stroke and manages the strike zone well, giving him a chance to hit for average and for power. He is also fast posting plus run times from home to first and showing smart instincts on base paths. Varsho will most likely slot into RF and somewhere in the middle of the order for opening day on March 30.
The third biggest addition of the offseason was Chris Bassit, a starting pitcher who will most likely be the 4th man in the rotation this year behind Manoah, Gausman and Berrios. Bassit has had a solid spring training this year pitching thirteen innings thus far with a 1-0 record and 9 strikeouts.
Despite losing velocity on his sinker which has dropped from 92 MPH to 89.2 MPH, Bassit is still very efficient with his pitches, rarely missing his spots. It will be interesting to see how John Schnieder and Pete Walker manage Bassi’s’ starts as he is in the latter half of his career at 34 years of age.
It will be interesting to see how these players fit into the lineup and pitching rotation, but it is still up to returning players such as Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, George Springer, Matt Chapman and Alex Manoah to lead the way, if the Blue Jays want to improve on their 2022 performance and potentially win the division for the first time since 2015.