A lost season one a lot of time to ponder the future. For Blue Jays fans, a lot of time is spent discussing the plethora of prospects that the Jays currently have in one of the game’s top farm systems. But while the Blue Jays have a lot of high-ceiling pitching prospects in the minors, the majority of those studs are still a few years away from reaching the majors.
That’s where free agency comes into play.
Under Alex Anthopoulos, the Blue Jays have yet to make a significant splash in free agency. Instead, they have focused on rebuilding from within and taking risks on high-ceiling, but underachieving players with the hopes of a low-risk, high-reward turnaround. So to expect differently from Toronto’s front office would likely be a futile exercise. However, let’s put those doubts aside for a moment and discuss the one obvious move looking Anthopoulos right in the face.
Toronto needs to be in on the Zack Greinke sweepstakes.
At this stage, the Blue Jays have just $52 million committed to the 2013 payroll, so there is money available. They also have needs at second base, left field, and the bullpen to address, so one would be hesitant in spending an exorbitant amount of money on any one player. However, the fans are growing restless with the lack of movement by the team in the standings and by the front office to make any significant additions to the roster.
Greinke would be that significant addition. He’s going to command a deal similar to the ones signed by Cole Hamels (6-year, $144 million) and Matt Cain (6-year, $127.5 million), so there is certainly the splash factor that Toronto fans are looking for. It would also help Toronto fans push past the lack of effort the team put forth in the Yu Darvish bidding, costing the Blue Jays a pitcher with a solid 16-9 record, 3.90 ERA, 10.4 K/9 ratio, and a built in cash-cow fan base.
Greinke would immediately become the ace of the Toronto staff, which would take a noticeable weight off of the shoulders of Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow. Greinke’s 4.0 WAR in 2011, his lowest in the last five season, is nearly equal to Romero’s 4.1 in 2010, his highest single-season mark. He has also proven to be extremely durable, throwing 200 innings four of the last five seasons, only missing the mark in 2011 due to an offseason basketball injury. Oh, and he also has a Cy Young award under his belt.
Doubters will point to the fact that Boston and New York have deeper pockets, but given Greinke’s past issues with stress management, pitching in either of those markets would be a volatile mixture. However, putting him in Toronto, with a rabid fan base, but an arguably easier market to play in, will put those risks to rest. Boston is also said to be much more conservative with their newly acquired contract flexibility, and they are not apt to make any significant moves in a decidedly down free agent market.
Greinke is there for the taking for Toronto, and with a return to health with other components of the team, it may be enough to sway Greinke’s decision to come north of the border. Still, all of this requires Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays front office to make a significant commitment outside of simple player development.
It’ll require turning over a completely new leaf, but one that fans have been waiting for the team to finally flip.