Sep 8, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Atlanta Braves pitcher Paul Maholm (28) delivers to the plate during the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

If Blue Jays Miss Out On Top Dogs, Standing Pat May Be Only Option

The Toronto Blue Jays have been routinely mentioned as interested in the big name pitchers still on the market, which includes Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana, and to a lesser degree Bronson Arroyo. However, the team’s stance on waiting for the prices of said pitchers to come down, while smart business, may leave them out in the cold.

Yup, my title may be a glaring statement of the obvious.

According to MLB Trade Rumors, the remaining pitchers on the market, outside of the trio of Jimenez, Santana, and Arroyo, are as follows:

Scott Baker (32)
Erik Bedard (35)
A.J. Burnett (37)
Chris Capuano (35)
Bruce Chen (37)
Odrisamer Despaigne (27)
Jon Garland (34)
Jason Hammel (31)
Tommy Hanson (27)
Aaron Harang (36)
Jair Jurrjens (28)
Jeff Karstens (31)
Paul Maholm (32)
Jason Marquis (35)
James McDonald (29)
Jeff Niemann (31)
Roy Oswalt (35)
Clayton Richard (30)
Johan Santana (34)
Joe Saunders (33)
Jake Westbrook (36)
Jerome Williams (32)
Suk-Min Yoon (27)
Barry Zito (36)

For the sake of argument, I have also removed A.J. Burnett, who is likely retiring this winter. That leaves a group of retreads, rebuilds and unknowns that don’t exactly inspire much confidence. That said, there are a couple of interesting arms out there, but not necessarily ones that would make anyone jump up and consider them an upgrade over what the Blue Jays would currently bring to camp.

Paul Maholm, who will be 32 in June, could be worth a look but is basically J.A. Happ with a lot more mileage on his arm. Both pitchers have won less than 50% of their decisions, both have lifetime separated by just .03 runs (4.28 for Maholm, 4.25 Happ), and both have SO/BB ratios just under 2.00. Looking for an upgrade here, even at a bargain price, would be the epitome of standing pat.

There are two foreign pitchers, both south of the magical 30 age line, that are somewhat intriguing, but are both heavy question marks.

Suk-Min Yoon, according to his MLB Trade Rumors profile, has a low to mid 90′s fastball and an above average change-up, which have helped him put up solid strike-out numbers (go to the end of the page) in the Korean Baseball Organization. However, he has always been dogged by durability issues that have split his time between the rotation and the bullpen, as well as resulting in shoulder issues that were deemed “serious” this past season. The Blue Jays don’t need a swing man, and even if they did, as a team with its own durability issues, red flags should say read “STAY AWAY” in big bold letters.

Recent Cuban defector Odrisamer Despaigne, like Yoon, is one of the pups of this year’s free agent class, but that doesn’t necessarily raise his stock any. According to a scouting report at Amazin Avenue, Despaigne also throws in the low to mid 90′s and Major League offerings in a solid 12-6 curve-ball, a slider, and a change-up. However, despite a solid array of pitches, Despaigne was never truly a dominant in the Cuban league. That said, his work in Cuba compares him favorably to former Yankee Orlando Hernandez, and also profiles as better than fellow country-man Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, who inked a big deal with the Phillies last summer. Still, the competition may be tough for him, and with the questions of how his style will translate against Major League hitters, it would be interesting to see if the Blue Jays see enough there to compete for him.

That all said, we’re back to the obvious. There are no proven upgrades in this market, and those that represent an upgrade, have their own share of question marks. Spending money in this market comes with its fair share of risks. But if the Blue Jays do determine that Santana or Jimenez are too rich for their blood, then seeing what they already have may not be the worst option.

Tags: Toronto Blue Jays

  • Andrew van Laar

    I think from that list I would pick one or both of Jeff Niemenn and Joe Saunders. Both are still in their prime (Saunders is exiting) and especially for Niemann have experience pitching against the AL East. I am not sure why Niemann only played a bit last year. If it’s a bad injury I may change my mind but I am at work so I can’t do research atm and Saunders has been a solid #5 type pitcher with potential to up his game a bit. He’s an inning eater and from what I see no major injuries.

    What do you guys think?

    • Kyle Franzoni

      I think Saunders profiles more like Maholm and Happ, again making him a moot point.

      Neimann underwent shoulder surgery in April and missed the entire season from there.

      Outside of those two, perhaps Jason Hammel is worth a flyer, but at the right price.

    • Eric

      Agree with niemann. Not with Saunders.

  • Eric

    James McDonald, Jeff karstens, tommy Hanson? Intrigued by those three.

  • Erik Trenouth

    I’d rather go with what we have, except maybe Johan on a minor league contract. We know that if he can be healthy, he can be dominant. None of the other guys have more upside than the current options. Although Jurrjens and Hanson could be worth a look. And Despaigne could be a good sign, but he needs a year in the minors anyway.

  • jason

    Theres no reason for them to miss out on Jimenez or Santana except the fact they’re just being cheap again. If they offered Jimenez 3years and $35m he’d jump at it and we’d have 3-4 solid starters. I don’t see how anyone can think our “internal” options give us a chance to compete, maybe Stroman as a no.5, but only a 5 right now. All we’ll get from Happ/Buffalo are the same results as last season. We need innings eaters. Dickey 220max, Buehrle 205, Morrow 180, ?????, what after except 4-5 a start options from the minors. Even if Stroman comes out of spring with the big club he’s only good for 150-160 maybe, then what, 125-135 from the rest? Go get Jimenez please AA and Rogers!!!!

    • Andrew van Laar

      I think expecting Morrow to be anything near an consistant innings eater is expecting too much. If he is, awesome! But I don’t think we should be betting on that.

  • Michael Wray

    Scott Baker probably has as much upside as anyone on this list but injury history makes him far too risky for the Jays on a major league deal. I’ve read the Mariners and Indians have been looking at him but if that falls through and Toronto can nab Baker on a minor league deal, sign me up!