The Toronto Blue Jays are playing chicken and there are only two birds left in the bush. What is the meaning of this ornithological imagery you ask? Why my boy, there are only two free-agent pitchers with real cohones left on the market for the Toronto Blue Jays left to get… Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez. Are the Jays running the risk of letting this game of chicken go on too long? Jays GM Alex Anthopolous is waiting for these two pitchers’ asking price to go down. Santana and Jimenez, are staring back, waiting for teams desperate enough to give up a draft pick and to pay multi-year contracts plus tens of millions of dollars to shore up their starting rotations.
A little bird told me that the Blue Jays desperately need to shore up their starting rotation. They have vets like R. A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle, plus near-star pitchers who have not lived up to potential like Brandon Morrow, plus rookies and prospects who make other teams drool like Marcus Stroman… but they are in real need of a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher to bridge the gap between reliability and grinding with a little quality stuff to the table.
Ervin Santana, 31, has excellent control and throws heat. The downside is that he gives up beaucoup home runs (career 1.22 per 9 innings). He walks about two and strikes out six a game. Metrics show him to be a 3.90 ERA pitcher. He is dependable as well. His average of innings pitched over 162 games is 215.
Ubaldo Jimenez, 30, also throws heat, striking out around 9 batters a game. He gives up, on average, four walks and eight hits a game. He might be the best option as his ground ball out-rate is pretty good (43.9%). He gave up only 16 home runs last year. His ERA after eight years in the majors is 3.92. His average of innings pitched over 162 games is 205.
Here are three pitchers previously rumored to go to the Jays who have recently flown away in quick order. Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija signed a one-year, $5.345 million deal Saturday, avoiding arbitration. The Diamondbacks agreed to terms with veteran right-hander Bronson Arroyo just this Friday. Matt Garza completed a four-year contract with Milwaukee on Sunday, January 26. Then there were two. Bye bye birdies.
So if you like the game of chicken step right up and wait. If you are like this writer who would rather spend his time making up the Jays’ future 25-man roster then look away. This might get messy. Someone’s chicken may get cooked and the Blue Jays may have to eat crow. I mean their goose could be cooked. I know, I know… enough with the birds already.