Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons is hoping to have a little more balance next season.
Appearing on Prime Time Sports on Sportsnet 590 The Fan Wednesday, the Blue Jays skipper discussed the importance of fielding a balanced lineup and the changes that could be in store for the team this off-season.
“I think it would be beneficial if you could add a couple left-handed bats, and productive bats, not just guys that are out there because they hit left-handed. Guys that can give you a little production, they don’t have to be stars,” said Gibbons. “I think anytime you have a balanced lineup, and you face so many right-handed pitchers, it might make it tougher on the opposing team when they’re trying to line up their bullpen. There’s a lot of benefits to that.”
The Blue Jays were a predominantly right-handed hitting team this season, with Michael Saunders, Ezequiel Carrera, and Ryan Goins the only lefties along with switch-hitters Justin Smoak and Dioner Navarro. With righty power hitters Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion likely to test the open market, and Saunders and Navarro also pending free agents, there is plenty of room for change this off-season.
There are a number of free agents that fit a positional need for the Blue Jays — namely outfielders, a backup catcher and first base/DH — and also bat from the left side of the plate. Josh Reddick, Dexter Fowler, Jon Jay, Nori Aoki, Pedro Alvarez, Adam Lind, Hank Conger and Alex Avila are a few names that theoretically fit the bill.
Along with adding a few more lefties to the lineup, Gibbons also discussed the importance of having some extra speed on the basepaths. Only the Baltimore Orioles and Oakland Athletics stole fewer bases among American League teams than the Blue Jays did in 2016.
“It never hurts to have a little more speed, we’re a slugging team, we weren’t a team that it was real easy to manufacture runs because it was tough for us to steal a base,” said Gibbons. “So you inject a little bit of that and that might help a little bit too. It could be a new look next year, that’s for sure.”