Jays outfielder Randal Grichuk smacked 31 homers last season but his slash line was just .232/.280/.457. Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Blue Jays are likely to enter 2020 with Randal Grichuk as their top option in center field, Jays general manager Ross Atkins confirmed (via Shi Davidi of Sportsnet). That’s not terribly surprising as the sparse free-agent market for center fielders has been almost completely picked over. 

Grichuk is coming off a disappointing 2019, the first season of a five-year extension he signed last April. Despite a career-high 31 home runs, he managed only a .232/.280/.457 line (90 wRC+) over 628 plate appearances. That seemed to open the door for an outside addition for the Jays, who have made some improvements around the roster this offseason. 

Between Grichuk’s right-handed pop and favorable Statcast ratings defensively, it seems he has earned another opportunity to improve upon his lackluster plate discipline.

There is more to report from around the AL East:

  • Rays left-hander Brendan McKay is entering 2020 with a slightly more aggressive pitching plan than he had previously, reports Juan Toribio of MLB.com. McKay will work every fifth day this spring in hopes of carrying that schedule into the regular season, Toribio notes. Last season, McKay was limited to mound work every six days as he worked up to a career-high 122 2/3 innings across three levels. A two-way star at the University of Louisville, McKay will continue to see some action at DH and perhaps at first base, Toribio notes, although that will be worked in judiciously around his pitching schedule to keep him fresh. 
  • From the outside, Tampa’s rotation looks to be spoken for by Charlie Morton, Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow, Yonny Chirinos and Ryan Yarbrough. Teams can’t rely on the same five starters to take them through an entire season, of course. So while an initial bullpen role or demotion to Triple-A Durham is still on the table for McKay, Toribio notes, the southpaw seems a good bet to start for manager Kevin Cash at some point this season.
  • Orioles reliever Richard Bleier is at full strength entering spring training, reports Roch Kubatko of MASN. The 32-year-old Bleier was sidelined by shoulder soreness early in 2019, perhaps contributing to his career-worst 5.37 ERA in 53 appearances last year. Kubatko unsurprisingly characterizes the soft-tossing ground-ball specialist as an essential lock to make Baltimore’s Opening Day roster. If Bleier can regain the form that saw him post a sub-2.00 ERA in 2017-18 (albeit with less inspiring peripherals), he’d be a solid trade chip for the rebuilding Orioles. Bleier is making just $915K this season and comes with two additional years of team control.

This article first appeared on MLB Trade Rumors and was syndicated with permission.


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MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
Can you name these MLB postseason veterans?
SCORE:
0/17
TIME:
5:00
3B: 1969 MIN; 1976-81 NYY; 1984 SDP
Graig Nettles
OF: 1971-75, 88 OAK; 1977-81 NYY; 1982 CAA
Reggie Jackson
2B: 1972-73, 75-76, 79 CIN; 1980 HOU; 1983 PHI
Joe Morgan
OF/DH: 1973-74 BAL; 1979, 82 CAA; 1986 BOS; 1987 MIN; 1988 OAK
Don Baylor
P: 1981 MON; 1987 MIN; 1990 BOS; 1992 ATL
Jeff Reardon
P: 1981 LAD; 1988-92 OAK; 1993 TOR
Dave Stewart
OF: 1981, 89-92 OAK; 1993 TOR; 1996 SDP; 1999 NYM; 2000 SEA
Rickey Henderson
OF/IF: 1983, 00 CHW; 1990, 92 OAK; 1997 BAL 1999 CLE
Harold Baines
P: 1984, 87 DET; 1991 MIN; 1992 TOR
Jack Morris
P: 1984 CHC; 1988-90, 92 OAK; 1996 STL; 1998 BOS
Dennis Eckersley
SS/2B: 1985, 89, 93 TOR; 1995 NYY; 1997 CLE
Tony Fernandez
P: 1986-88 NYM; 1997, 00 NYY; 1998 CLE
Dwight Gooden
P: 1986-90 BOS; 1999-03, 07 NYY; 2004-05 HOU
Roger Clemens
C: 1987 STL; 1990 BOS; 1995 CLE
Tony Pena
OF/IF: 1990-91 PIT; 1996 BAL; 1997 FLO 1999 NYM; 2000 ATL
Bobby Bonilla
1B/DH: 1991-93 TOR; 1999 NYM; 2000-01 SEA; 2004 NYY; 2005 BOS
John Olerud
1B/3B/OF: 2007 BOS; 2008 TBR; 2009 NYY; 2010 ATL
Eric Hinske

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