Toronto Blue Jays


The rebuilding Toronto Blue Jays, who traded designated hitter Kendrys Morales and cash to the Oakland  A's for minor-league infielder Jesus Lopez and international bonus pool room less than 24 hours before Opening Day, are projected to be not much improved from last year's fourth-place club (73-89) in the AL East. But they are expected to make some noise when Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the No. 1 prospect in baseball, bursts on the scene to make his much-anticipated major-league debut in late April or early May.
The 20-year-old has an oblique strain that will keep him off the field for three weeks. Then he will then spend a couple of weeks in the minors. The son of a Hall of Famer, Guerrero lead the minors last season in hitting (.381), slugging (.636) and OPS (1.120).
Team MVP: Randal Grichuk

For Forbes' full MLB preview, featuring analysis on all 30 teams, click here.
For Forbesfull MLB preview, featuring analysis on all 30 teams, click here.
Until Guerrero arrives and proves that he can live up to his mammoth projections at third base, outfielder Randal Grichuk seems poised to be the club's most valuable player after he enjoyed a breakout spring in which he clubbed four home runs, second highest on the club, with a 1.193 OPS (on-base plus slugging).
In his first campaign in the American League after coming over from St. Louis, the right-fielder put up a career-high 25-homer campaign last season (tied with Justin Smoak), so a 30-plus home run season in 2019 doesn't seem out of the question, and Grichuk has shown that he can play center field, which could make Kevin Pillar expendable in a trade
Best-Value Pitcher: Marcus Stroman
Marcus Stroman is the club's best-value pitcher and could get a good return if he is traded this summer. Stroman, named the Opening Day starter, is signed for one year at $7.4 million. He expressed his frustration in the spring that the organization hadn't offered him a contract extension.
Stroman, who struggled with shoulder issues last season, is coming off a lousy 2018 campaign in which he posted a 5.54 earned-run average. He is under the Jays' control until 2020. He had an outstanding spring, posting a 2.19 ERA in four starts, and there is little doubt he will be much improved over the regular season if he stays healthy.
Best-Value Position Player: Teoscar Hernandez
Teoscar Hernandez became one of the club's breakout stars of the spring. He represents great value with a contract of $578,600 and is under team control until 2020. Hernandez is trying to show more discipline at the plate. In the spring, he drew eight walks in 49 at-bats, but he also struck out 17 times, the second-most on the club next to Brandon Drury's 19 strikeouts. Hernandez had a slash line of .314/.407/.451 in the exhibition season.
Hernandez, who came into spring expecting to platoon in left field with Billy McKinney, has earned the trust of manager Charlie Montoyo to at least start the season in left. But he will be expected to improve on his ghastly fielding that led to eight errors in his first big-league season in 2018. A good sign was that he was error-free in the spring.
Best Addition: Matt Shoemaker
Matt Shoemaker, who was added as a free agent in the off-season, will be in the starting rotation with Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Trent Thornton and Clayton Richard. Shoemaker always had good control, and he continued to show that by striking out 20 and walking eight with a WHIP of 1.11 over 18 innings in the spring. But he also gave up five home runs in five starts. Shoemaker could be an intriguing player because of his experience and the fact he finally feels healthy.
He has pitched six seasons in the majors with a 3.93 ERA. He made only seven starts in 2018 with the Los Angeles Angels, missing time with a right forearm strain before returning in September. Shoemaker signed a one-year, $3.5 million contract for 2019.
The X-Factor: Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
Infielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. had an outstanding spring at the plate, swatting four home runs, and he could be the X-factor this season. He looked like he was destined for Triple-A when the Blue Jays signed Freddy Galvis. But Gurriel is now locked in as the starting second baseman with Devon Travis sidelined with an injury.
Gurriel signed a seven-year, $22 million contract with the Blue Jays in 2017. He won't become a free agent until 2024. With his power, it's conceivable he could be a 20 home-run hitter. But he grades poorly on defense and he will need improvement on his fielding to continue to earn the trust of manager Charlie Montoyo.


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