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At 16-19, the Toronto Blue Jays sit in the AL East cellar, and the underlying numbers are not good. Toronto is scoring only 3.66 runs per game while allowing 4.71 runs per game. The only other teams in the bottom 10 in both runs scored per game and runs allowed per game are the Chicago White Sox, Colorado Rockies, and Miami Marlins. That is not the company you want to keep.

"The time is now. The time is not, 'It's going to happen.' The time is now. What are we going to do to do it?" Blue Jays manager John Schneider said over the weekend when asked when things would turn around (via "... It's not that early. The runway gets shorter and shorter."

The solution to Toronto's problems is simply "the players on the roster need to play better." Chris Bassitt, Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Alejandro Kirk, George Springer, and others are all performing well below expectations and well below last year. Things are never quite that simple though, right? Guerrero and Kirk in particular are in the middle of multi-year backslides.

The middle of May is usually when underperforming teams begin looking for ways to shake up the roster, perhaps with a call-up or by giving a bench guy more playing time or by making a trade, like the San Diego Padres dealing for Luis Arraez. With that in mind, here are three ways the Blue Jays can shuffle the roster in an effort to get their season back on the rails.

1. Make Jansen and Schneider everyday players

Danny Jansen
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This has already started to happen! Danny Jansen has started nine of the last 14 games behind the plate because Kirk is slashing .200/.293/.271. Kirk grades out well defensively, but there is a minimum acceptable standard on offense, and he is not meeting it. Jansen has been an above-average hitter throughout his career and a solid defender. He deserves to be the No. 1 catcher.

As for Davis Schneider, he had an incredible 35-game debut last season, hitting .276/.404/.603. There were some reasons to think he would not repeat that, namely his elevated 30.5% strikeout rate, though Schneider has been great in the early going: .270/.372/.473 with a stable 25.6% strikeout rate, and very strong ball-tracking data (exit velocity, etc.). The bat looks legit.

Davis began the season in something of a platoon role against lefties, though Kevin Kiermaier's recent hip injury led to Davis stepping into left field on a near-regular basis, and he responded by going 7 for 20 with three doubles and five walks. That does not include Sunday's 2 for 3 with a double and two walks effort, after Kiermaier returned.

Schneider has primarily played second base and left field this season, though he's also experienced at first and third, and his glove doesn't stand out (good or bad) anywhere. The Blue Jays have another option for second base (more on that in a second) and, even when he's not hitting much (like this season), Kiermaier's glove is too valuable to leave on the bench.

Third base is the best spot for Schneider and Toronto has received only a .244/.290/.400 line from its third basemen this year. Ernie Clement and Isiah Kiner-Falefa have gotten most of the playing time there. Jansen and Schneider have begun to receive more playing time in recent weeks. It's time to go all-in and make them everyday players. 

2. Unleash Orelvis

Second base has not been an issue for the Blue Jays this year -- their second basemen are hitting .283/.381/.406 -- mostly because Kiner-Falefa has put up an outlier .345/.412/.345 line in his nine games at the position. Cavan Biggio has started 20 of the team's 35 games at second base and is hitting .205/.326/.295, so yeah, there is room for improvement here.

Fortunately, second base is one of the few positions where the Blue Jays might be able to upscale internally. Orelvis Martinez, Toronto's No. 3 prospect, is slashing .296/.367/.574 with eight home runs in 29 Triple-A games this year. His exit velocity numbers are strong and his 22.7% strikeout rate is below the 24.1% International League average. The young man is performing well.

Here's what our R.J. Anderson wrote about Martinez entering the season:

Martinez, who received a signing bonus worth more than $3.5 million in 2018, repaired his stock last season by homering 28 times combined between Double- and Triple-A. Martinez's main issues have been his hit-tool projections and his long-term defensive home. He's still prone to an overly aggressive approach that results in a high whiff rate, but it's notable that he posted a career-high walk rate in 2023. The Blue Jays seemed to concede that he's not going to be a shortstop, instead giving him a lot of burn at second and third base. Martinez's chances of sticking on a MLB roster are going to be made or fade based on how often he can tap into his power against big-league pitching. We should start to find out the answer to that question at some point in 2024.

Martinez has made 23 of his 28 starts at second base (one at third and four at DH) and he has improved his contact rates from his decent 55-game Triple-A debut a year ago. The Blue Jays are not just scoring the seventh-fewest runs per game. They've also hit only 30 home runs, eighth fewest in baseball. Martinez might be able to provide a power element the offense lacks.

If you want to get really crazy, the Blue Jays could put Justin Turner at third base and give Spencer Horwitz run at DH. Horwitz is hitting .342/.467/.487 with more walks (26) than strikeouts (20) in Triple-A, his third year at the level. That's asking a lot of the 39-year-old Turner though, and it means sitting Kiermaier so Schneider can play left (with Daulton Varsho sliding over to center).

3. Shake up the bullpen

This is easier said than done because the Blue Jays lack viable bullpen options in Triple-A. Top prospect Ricky Tiedemann is sidelined with a nerve issue and you needn't try hard to see how a lefty who's struck out 209 batters in 130 2/3 career minor league innings could be helpful in the bullpen. Instead, Tiedemann is currently on the Triple-A injured list.

This much is clear though: Toronto's bullpen needs help. It has been one of the least effective bullpens in baseball six weeks into the season.

I can't help but wonder about Alek Manoah. Manoah had a terrible 2023 and missed the start of 2024 with a shoulder issue. He made his season debut Sunday and it looked a lot like 2023 Manoah. He allowed seven runs and put 10 runners on base in four innings. Manoah wasn't good during his minor-league rehab starts either, allowing 20 runs in 19 2/3 innings down there.

Two years ago, this guy threw 196 2/3 innings with a 2.24 ERA and finished third in the AL Cy Young voting. He's only 26 too. You'd hate to give up on a pitcher who showed that kind of upside. But clearly, this is not working, so maybe it's time to put Manoah in the bullpen and see what happens when he airs it out in one-inning bursts? Perhaps that's the first step in getting him back on track. It can't be worse than what he's doing now.

Triple-A options include mid-range prospects like Chad Dallas and Hagen Danner, and journeyman veterans like Joel Kuhnel and Mike Mayers. It's not great. The Blue Jays really need Chad Green (and Bowden Francis and Yariel Rodríguez) to get healthy, and they still need help beyond that. Relievers are unpredictable and you can't always remain patient. Improvement may never come.

Is it too early to explore the trade market? No. No it is not. The Padres just traded for Arraez and the Marlins are open for business. Miami righty Anthony Bender and lefty Andrew Nardi have combined for a 7.07 ERA, but the under-the-hood numbers are very strong, and there are reasons to believe they'll be better moving forward. Both are high-end bat-missers. There are relievers to be had.

The Blue Jays won 89 games and went to the postseason a year ago because their pitching staff -- rotation and bullpen -- was elite. They allowed the sixth-fewest runs per game in baseball. This year it's the opposite. The pitching has been a liability, especially the bullpen. How do you fix that? It's easier said than done, but a fix is needed. It's time for GM Ross Atkins to get on it.