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2023 MLB Season Preview: Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays look like one of the best young teams in baseball.

MLB: Spring Training-Pittsburgh Pirates at Toronto Blue Jays Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Fueled by one of the best collections of position players in baseball, the Toronto Blue Jays won 92 games last year, earning a Wild Card spot and officially putting the American League on notice that a new power may be emerging. Nothing in the off-season has changed that fact, as Toronto once again should be one of the best teams in baseball in 2023.

Expectations for 2023

Most of the projection systems view Toronto in more or less the same light. FanGraphs sees a 89-73 team, PECOTA sees a 90-72 team, and ZiPS is the most pessimistic of the group, projecting them at 88-74. (One Fangraphs model also has them finishing at 88-74.) Driven by an insanely talented position player group, probably the best one in baseball, it would be a surprise to everyone if Toronto wasn’t participating in the 2023 post-season.

The caveat for AL East teams, of course, is that their division is a gauntlet, with the worst team of the five finishing with 78 wins last year. This year will be no different. The balanced schedule will help these teams out tremendously as they can now beat up on someone other than each other. The Jays still don’t look like favorites in the AL East, but they’re not far off in what should be a melee that goes down to the wire.

Projected Roster

Via Roster Resource:


  1. RF George Springer
  2. SS Bo Bichette
  3. 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr
  4. C Alejandro Kirk
  5. LF Daulton Varsho
  6. 3B Matt Chapman
  7. DH Brandon Belt
  8. 2B Whit Merrifield
  9. CF Kevin Kiermaier


Danny Jansen (C)

Santiago Espinal (INF)

Cavin Biggio (UTIL)

Nathan Lukes (OF)


Alex Manoah (RHP)

Kevin Gausman (RHP)

Jose Berrios (RHP)

Chris Bassit (RHP)

Yusei Kikuchi (LHP)


Jordan Romano (RHP)

Erik Swanson (RHP)

Yimi Garcia (RHP)

Anthony Bass (RHP)

Tim Mayza (LHP)

Adam Cimber (RHP)

Trevor Richards (RHP)

Mitch White (RHP)

Biggest Strength

Toronto is going to make its hay in 2023 through its impressive lineup. A top three of Springer, Bichette, and Vlad Guerrero is nasty and it just keeps going after that. Kirk, Varsho, and Matt Chapman can all hit, and Brandon Belt should still have something left in the tank batting 7th. Add in Merrifield and Kiermaier at the bottom of the order, and this lineup looks crazy good.

Add to the hitting that most of these guys can play at least passable defense, and in some cases better than that, and it’s not hard to figure out why Fangraphs ranks the Blue Jays position players as the top group in all of baseball. Their 2023 fortunes will rest mostly with this group.

In particular, Kirk gives the Blue Jays the best catcher projection in MLB, and boosts their DH projection a ton as well, up to third. The Jays also have a top-three projection at first base (Guerrero), and are top 10 everywhere except at second base.

Biggest Weakness

The bullpen seems like the annual problem for Canada’s team. Toronto should possess a strong rotation and their position player group is fantastic, so the bullpen is where this team could improve the most. Romano, working as a closer, had a 2.11 ERA last season, but a 3.31 xERA and 3.44 xFIP. He lived off some fortunate batted ball luck and some really fortunate fly ball-to-home-run luck. Some regression is expected and if it comes, the back end of that bullpen could get dicey. Swanson was tremendous with Seattle last season, finishing with a 1.68 ERA in 53 innings pitched. But like with Romano, there’s some expected regression for some of his more fortunate outcomes from last season, and if both guys experience falls back to earth, things could get even worse. Good news for Toronto is the bullpen is of the easiest parts of the team to upgrade mid-season as there’s usually plenty of options. If they can weather the storm for a few months, the Front Office could bring in reinforcements as needed.

It’s also worth noting that second base sticks out like a sore thumb in this lineup. Whit Merrifield now has over 1,200 PAs of being just average, and while the expectation is that the Jays will pivot to Santiago Espinal before long, the latter’s defense-first profile limits his ceiling. There’s nothing really wrong with the Merrifield-Espinal plan (other than just not handing Espinal the position), but it’s a soft spot in a lineup that doesn’t have any others. At least with two decent options, there’s insurance in case someone finds themselves in the midst of a disaster season.

Reinforcements from the Farm

The Blue Jays placed 17th in Keith Law’s recent organizational rankings, as they’ve depleted a lot of their system through trades and promotions the last couple of years. Winning at the major league level typically means the farm takes hit after hit. There still is some talent, though, and quite a lot to rely on for 2023, which really makes this a team that should not fall apart over the course of the season.

Ricky Tiedeman is the only guy to makes Law’s Top 100, a 6’4” left-handed starter who throws 94-98 mph and has a strong slider. Already ensconced at Double-A, he could be called on some point in 2023 if the need arises.

Given that second base looks uninspiring, it’s convenient for the Jays that they have a ton of options to make it more interesting. Addison Barger flew through three minor league levels and raked everywhere last year. Leo Jimenez hasn’t yet hit Double-A, but has the contact skills and defensive evaluation that could make him an easy plug-and-play callup should the need arise. Shortstop Orelvis Martinez is a highly regarded international prospect who hit 30 homers in Double-A last season. He has a lot of swing and miss in his game which he’ll have to figure out, but a supreme amount of potential. That much power from a guy who should stay at short could be a game-changer, and he could provide value elsewhere, too.

Otto Lopez is a throwback 2B/SS/CF utility type who slaps at everything, and provides yet more insurance for second base and the possibility that Varsho and Kiermaier get injured; he looks like he might win an Opening Day roster spot, but won’t be far away if he doesn’t. Lastly, there’s Yosver Zuleta, who flew through four minor league levels last year (but barely pitched in any of them), who seems like the most interesting of wild cards — a four-pitch starter who also throws really hard, and could serve in a bunch of roles, provided he can stay on the field.

Braves history/outlook against Toronto

The Braves and Blue Jays haven’t played a ton over the years due the Red Sox always being Atlanta’s American League ‘‘rival,” but they have had some battles. While the two teams didn’t meet in 2022, they played six times in early 2021 and the Braves went an impressive 0-6 in the process. Of course, no one remembers what happened in early 2021 because in late 2021, the Braves were planning a parade and hoisting a certain piece of metal over their heads.

That said, the Braves last beat the Jays in a season series in the unsettled days of 2020, so it’s not exactly a history of futility against the bluebirds or anything.

Now with the balanced schedule, the Braves will see the Blue Jays every year for at least one series. In 2023, the Braves go to Toronto for a three-game series during May 12-14.

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