The Toronto Blue Jays are down, so let's get one more kick in while we can. These opportunities aren't always as plentiful as New York Yankees fans would like. But shoutout to crybaby Kevin Gausman for giving us some more life on this front!
A lot has been said (by us) about the Jays' offseason moves. And it wasn't just for fun -- we were genuinely thankful they got rid of Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Teoscar Hernandez for seemingly no reason. Those two were very productive for the Jays, especially within the AL East, but the front office felt a mini re-tool was necessary.
The Hernandez-for-Erik Swason swap seems to be paying dividends, but it's been nothing to make you fall out of your chair. At this point, the Daulton Varsho trade is looking as bad as it possibly can. Chris Bassitt's last three starts flipped the conversation on him (prior to Monday's faceplant). Brandon Belt, fine. Kevin Kiermaier, exceeding expectations but we all know how that will end -- and his acquisition has somehow made George Springer worse, which wasn't the intention.
Swapping out Robbie Ray for Kevin Gausman was good. Signing Yusei Kikuchi? Bad. Feels like a lot of what Toronto has done has canceled out ... until you realize how costly the loss of Marcus Semien was.
At the time, the Rangers giving Semien a seven-year, $175 million contract seemed insane, but it's actually been one of the best deals in baseball. He might've been a tad underwhelming in 2022, if you're to judge him on his two top-three MVP finishes in 2019 and 2021, but he was still among the most productive players in the sport.
Blue Jays letting Marcus Semien go might've been best possible outcome for Yankees
And if you date this back to 2018, he's only missed 11 games! Just a few simple decisions -- like not signing Kikuchi or extending Jose Berrios on a $131 million deal -- could've easily paved the way for Semien.
But even with those deals, the Jays could've made it happen! Their payroll is slightly above the $200 million range, they have good attendance, and are the sole baseball attraction in Canada. Basic math tells you that Belt, Kiermaier and Kikuchi cost nearly $30 million. There's your salary swap.
Instead, the platoon of Whit Merrifield, Cavan Biggio and Santiago Espinal has largely been bad. Merrifield's dropoff from 2021 has been considerable; Biggio is downright terrible; and Espinal, who was somehow an All-Star in 2022 (?), is the definition of average (at best).
Meanwhile, Semien has hit .261 with a .765 OPS, 115 OPS+, 144 runs scored, 33 home runs, 121 RBI and 32 stolen bases in 207 games with the Rangers. That production laps the trio of players Toronto has used at second base since his departure.
The only counterargument here is that a seven-year deal for a player entering his age-31 season is undoubtedly a risk, but that could swiftly be rebutted by mentioning Semien's historically excellent durability and the fact he entered his prime at the age of 28. Looking like another miss for Toronto, just the way we like it.
How about a redo here, Gausman?