3 Things to Watch for in the Blue Jays 2024 Season

Carter Stenberg Avatar

Written by: ImAGausman

Ah, who could forget these two Canadian seasonal classics Summer of 69 or the Winter of Flight N616RH. 

In my head canon, Ohtani was on the plane. I like so many others had been given a kernel of hope, watched it explode, and eagerly awaited to get the confirmation we all desperately were wanting to hear – “Shohei Ohtani signed with the Toronto Blue Jays”. Honestly at this point it hurts to read. I spent the entirety of that cold December Friday giddy with excitement as my wildest dreams seemed to actually be coming true. I literally started writing an article for this page after the JP Hoornstra news broke about how legitimising it felt to the nation of Canada after being told for so long that free agents don’t want to play here.

But eventually, flight N616RH landed in Toronto, and on board was not Shohei Ohtani. Reality sunk in over the next few days, but hope remained until via Instagram the official Shohei Ohtani account shared how excited he was to be joining the Dodgers.

The big blue LA logo just stares back at Jays fans saying “lose all hope ye who enter here.”

The Jays almost had their $700 million USD, $913 million CAD man, but didn’t get him. Who knows maybe they never had a shot. Ross Atkins was convinced and that was enough for me.

Opening Day is this week, and the Toronto Blue Jays 2024 season that was supposed to be one of the most hotly anticipated yet, comes in not even registering a tick on the MLB radar. Jays fans are – at best – not looking forward to 2024, and, if they’re like me, find themselves dreading it.

It seems so absurd of a position to be in. Coming off 2 straight playoff seasons with some of the best young talent in baseball under team control, the Jays should be riding high as their contention window is still very much alive. Today I want to break down 3 of the most important elements about the upcoming Toronto Blue Jays season to give a better idea of what to expect for the 2024 Regular Season.

  1. The New Additions

I’m choosing not to dwell on the Ohtani aspect so much as it breaks a sports fan’s heart, especially given the recent investigation into Shohei. The part I want to emphasise now is how the Blue Jays responded.

Did front office respond by then shifting the $700mil that was greenlit for the unicorn into some of the other extremely hot free agents available? They’d missed out on Juan Soto whilst chasing Ohtani, but there was still talent out there including the reigning Cy Young winner Blake Snell, Corbin Burnes on the trade block, and Japanese sensation Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Jorge Soler filled a hole that was needed. Former MVP Bellinger came up a lot in Blue Jays talks. Perhaps a reunion with Jays fan favourites of Teoscar Hernandez, Lourdes Gurriel Jr, and Matt Chapman was in order?

38-year old Justin Turner, IKF, and Yariel Rodriguez; $52 million spent for a combined 7 years of service.

This sucks.

No offence to any of those 3, but seriously? This team has felt one big piece away from contending for the World Series, and now it feels like we’ve taken a major step back. These guys have major shoes to fill as they are sliding into spots that some of the most productive Jays over the past few years have typically slotted into. 

Can Turner produce at the level Brandon Belt did for us last year? 

Will Kiner-Falefa transition to 3rd base well while still being a defensive stud? What about his AAA level bat? When we needed run support, Chapman always had the threat of power. Can Isaiah be expected to get clutch runs home when we need them?

Yariel slides into a bullpen roll that he was dominant in with the NPB’s Chunichi Dragons last year, but he doesn’t have any experience against MLB competition. When the inevitable injuries pile up to the bullpen and rotation, will he be ready to take on a lion’s share of clutch late game situations? (I mean, Mitch White is still somehow on this team and I would put Yariel in every chance I get if down to those two)

The theme for all of this is that there is a lot of uncertainty, no precedent to determine what we can expect from these guys. Perhaps they will revitalise and have career years like so many other rentals that have come to Toronto have done. These guys have the power in their hands to turn a 90 win Jays team to a 100 win… or an 80 win team. That’s a lot to ask of any player.

  1. Bichette and Guerrero

Let’s just call it like it is – this team belongs to these two guys. There is an argument for the rotation being the backbone with the reliable studs of Gausman, Berrios, Bassitt, and Kikuchi (honestly the only consistent thing in the Blue Jays organisation). I’d like to make that argument, but I think it’s just dishonest. Vladdy and Bo are the face of the Blue Jays and everything around them was there for them to shine. We lost MVP runner up Marcus Semien because of the refusal to take Bichette off of shortstop. Chapman was brought in specifically to ease the defensive burden for Bo and it looks like IKF was brought to do the exact same. Plus as a natural shortstop, Kiner-Falefa can slot in on days where they just need Bo in a DH position.

Vladdy was supposed to be a Third Baseman but the experiment had failed. The Blue Jays wanted to shift him over to First and asked Rowdy Tellez to take him under his wing and show him the ropes – a role Rowdy was eager to take, even knowing that it meant he was teaching himself out of a job. Once Vlad was good and consistent at First Base, Tellez was shipped off to Milwaukee. 2023 saw Brandon Belt brought in to alternate time with Guerrero Jr whenever he needed it and Vlad could slide into a DH role.

I love both these guys, but have you seen any more spoiled or pampered young players? Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t entitled and don’t ACT like they are spoiled. They just are! All this without even signing the huge extension that Atkins surely wants these boys to commit too.

More importantly for the 2024 season, both these guys need to deliver to the level that they are being treated. Bichette has held up his end of the bargain for the most part. His bat is his key contributor and heck he even had positive defensive metrics as Shortstop last year. Bo has been known to slump and get streaky during the season, but if he can get those fewer and further between, the Jays can (and should) expect a name in MVP conversation every single year.

Guerrero is the question mark. In 2021 he was MVP if not for the rise of Shohei Ohtani into phenom status. Since then it has just been a decline, with the only major highlight of 2023 being winning the Homerun Derby. Again, Vladdy is still performing at an above-average level. His barrel and hard hit numbers are still elite and he seems primed to have the odds shift in his favour to have a crazy 2024 season… the Blue Jays need him too. Vladdy is far too young to be having consistent seasons of regression – especially now as the ONLY First Baseman on the roster other than Vogelbach who really is just a DH and situational First.

Once again, a lot is expected of these two, and with all the pieces around them to make it happen, they’ve got to deliver now or never.

  1. The Young Guns

Davis “Babe” Schneider had the best start to an MLB career a player has ever had. That is something no one can ever take away from him. Completely out of nowhere he became a household name in Toronto and gave fans excitement they hadn’t felt all season (even as a team regularly in a wildcard spot). 

Obviously, after his incredible record setting performance, Schneider has earned his spot in an everyday role for the Jays – which became apparent earlier this week when the Jays jettisoned off my favourite player and criminally underrated outside the 6, Santiago Espinal.

Sophomore slumps are a terrifying preposition when considering how much is riding on this team and this season. Babe has just a month of professional playtime, and now he’s being given the reigns over a full season. He regressed mightily in the last week or so of the 2023 season, so it gives me heartburn to think about how 2024 begins. A lot is being asked of him so young into his MLB career.

And he isn’t alone! With injuries already in the rotation, to a lot of people’s surprise Bowden Francis got the call to be the 5th in rotation. Francis was lights out as a reliever in 36 innings last year, but now will he perform as a starter? He was alright in 8 games starting in AAA last year, but the last time he was a full time starter in 2022, his AAA ERA had ballooned past 7 in over 30 starts. Perhaps the Jays want to just use him there for a short period of production before going back into the bullpen when the biggest wildcard of all returns…

Alek Manoah.

There is no bigger wildcard factor for the 2024 season than which Alek Manoah shows up this year. 3rd in Cy Young voting in 2022 all the way to being lit up in Rookie ball in 2023. I love Manoah. I followed his rise to the bigs more than most prospects, especially pitching. I want him to bounce back so bad, but it’s complete chaos trying to predict. There is no more picture perfect microcosm of the Blue Jays season than just the existence of Alek Manoah. 

I can summarise how I feel about these 2024 Blue Jays with exactly what I had written about Manoah coming into this season. 

No tangible improvements other than your word and confidence you’ll be better? Guess we will see you at the Ballpark to find out.


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