Two years ago, after the Toronto Blue Jays spent gobs of money in the offseason, they headed into Spring Training as Major League Baseball’s World Series favorite. After that didn’t go as planned and last year wasn’t much better, the Jays are no longer at the top of the odds board, but they’re not all that far off either.
Toronto currently sits at +1600 to win the World Series now, just up from the +1300 they were at when the first regular season rolled around last year. So is it fair to expect more from this year’s team? You’d better believe it.
Even though Toronto’s World Series odds are a little off the pace from last year, take that with a grain of salt. By the odds, the American League is up for grabs with the Red Sox and Angels listed as +550 favorites and the Toronto not far off that pace at +800.
The Jays landed a couple of big fish in the offseason, netting Montreal native catcher Russell Martin and third baseman Josh Donaldson. When you look at the Jays’ lineup, they shouldn’t have any problem producing runs if they stay relatively healthy. Martin and Donaldson are two more big bats in an order that already includes Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Jose Reyes.
That said, the Jays hoped they had the pieces in place to make a run in the playoffs two years ago and that looked like a pipe dream by the time the ice had melted from the Rogers Centre.
Now, the pressure is on.
Bautista and Encarnacion have team-friendly contracts but they aren’t going to be around forever. If the lineup isn’t churning out runs, there is going to be a ton of pressure on the veteran arms of R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle to anchor a rotation filled out by youngsters. That’s what has some critics questioning the depth or the rotation and the bullpen.
“We’re monitoring, I guess is the best way to put it, a lot of the remaining free agents,” Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos told Rogers Prime Time Sports late last month. “Most times the later you get in to the winter there’s potential for the prices to change on some of these guys.”
For now, it’s all wait-and-see – at least for few more days. Toronto pitchers and catcher are scheduled to go through their first official work out Monday, Feb. 23.