Seventy-eight days ago, the business of baseball shut down in the middle of free agency and it hasn’t been heard from since.
Toronto Blue Jays pitchers and catchers would’ve been scheduled to hit the field in Dunedin this week, but that’s not happening, and won’t until a new CBA is agreed to.
There are ominous signs that a deal may not be on the immediate horizon.
Whenever things do return to normal, there’s going to be a frenzied roster-building window that the Jays and GM Ross Atkins are sure to be a part of.
Getting Kevin Gausman signed to a lucrative multi-year pact to pair with Jose Berríos atop the rotation just prior to the lockout was a great start, but as a club billed as a serious World Series threat now there are holes that absolutely must be addressed.
Like last year around this time, it’s important to remember that every single need doesn’t have to be satisfied prior to the start of a marathon season that might just be a little bit shorter this year when all is said and done if things drag into March as many are predicting.
Waiting until trading season in July — like last year with some bullpen reinforcements and the Berríos blockbuster — could be in the cards once again.
With that being said, there are four items on the to-do list for the Jays front office that stand out above the rest.
Offensive impact at 2B or 3B
The current behind-the-scenes expectation around the game is that there could be about a seven-day window for off-season business to get done across the league prior to the start of spring training once the CBA is signed.
From a position player and lineup perspective, it’s all about the second base and third base spots for the Jays when the transactions start flowing again.
It was very clear that Marcus Semien was going to be one-and-done in a Jays uniform, and what a season it was for the middle infielder in his age-30 campaign.
With the outfield set for now, the catching depth chart full and some guys named Vladdy and Bo holding down first base and shortstop, respectively, the Jays will look to go about replacing Semien’s MVP-level production from the top of the order.
That will be just about impossible to do.
With the potential platoon of right-handed hitting Santiago Espinal and lefty Cavan Biggio already in-house, then Jays could look to add at either third or second.
Ideally, the Jays would love to find a way to replicate the Semien signing, finding a player whose market craters and is left seeking a one-year prove-it contract.
Kris Bryant and Trevor Story would fit that profile, while stars Jose Ramirez, Matt Chapman and Ketel Marte are the blockbuster trade candidates who will be available between the restart and the trade deadline.
The Espinal/Biggio platoon would profile a bit better at second base than the hot corner, but the mid-tier free-agent options like Jonathan Villar and Josh Harrison aren’t overly inspiring.