Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels or Matt Cain anyone? The 2013 free agent class could include a trio of stud starters who have yet to celebrate their 30th birthday. With another year of development behind Brett Lawrie, Travis d’Arnaud, J.P. Arencibia, Colby Rasmus, Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow etc., next winter should be the ideal time for the Jays to make a big free agent splash. And what better way to do it than by signing a legitimate front line starter in his prime?
Just imagine a Blue Jays 2013 rotation of:
1- Zack Greinke
2- Ricky Romero
The Jays have an incredible surplus of starting pitching prospects, but that shouldn’t prevent the organization from bringing in top of the rotation-caliber talent, especially when you consider that the pitching prospects that are closest to the Majors like Hutchison, McGuire and Jenkins, while solid, aren’t projected to be front-line starters. It’s the guys in the lower minors like Daniel Norris and Noah Syndergaard who most prospect analysts project to have the highest ceilings.
Compare Greinke, Cain and Hamels to the starting pitching free agent crop of 2012, with their ages in brackets:
Greinke: (28) 3.83 ERA/7.96 K/9
Hamels: (29) 3.39 ERA/8.45 K/9
Cain: (28) 3.35 ERA/7.41 K/9
Mark Buehrle: (32) 3.83 ERA/5.07 K/9
C.J. Wilson: (31) 3.60 ERA/8.10 K/9
Hiroki Kuroda: (37) 3.45 ERA/6.73 K/9
Edwin Jackson: (28) 4.46 ERA/6.68 K/9
Roy Oswalt: (34) 3.21 ERA/7.35 K/9
Yu Darvish: (25) 1.41 ERA/9.50 K/9 (NPB)
Personally, I would take any of the 2013 crop over this year’s bunch. While Darvish is intriguing, he is represents a $110 million investment on someone who’s never thrown a single pitch in MLB. I’d take the three proven guys for the same money, any day of the week, and twice on Sundays.
Basically what I am trying to say is, this off-season was not the ideal time for the Jays to spend big money on free agents. Another year of progression from the Jays’ farm system bounty and from the solid young core of Major Leaguers will put the club in a much better position to succeed and to sell stars on the city. Now we’ve just got to hope the Brewers, Giants and Phillies don’t sign any major extensions this season.