Sep 29, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Jason Vargas (60) throws a pitch in the first inning of the game against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
If the Toronto Blue Jays are serious about approaching the free agent market to address the team’s pitching needs, they may need to consider making their move a bit faster.
As announced by Jeff Passan via Twitter, the Kansas City Royals have signed left-hander Jason Vargas to a four-year, $32 million deal on Thursday. While not as serious a strike as the Tim Hudson signing was with the San Francisco Giants, it is nonetheless another pitcher coming off the market. More importantly, , its a sign of the evolution of the market itself, and the pricing that the Blue Jays are going to face when they finally dip their toes in.
While neither is, or rather was, a Blue Jays target, their respective contracts are going to highly impact the Blue Jays pursuit of pitching this winter. Vargas, a 31-year-old soft-tossing lefty gets four year at an average annual value of $8 million per, Tim Hudson, a 38-year-old veteran, is coming off of a major ankle injury and was still highly sought after. He scores a deal for two-years, $23 million. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know where this is going.
Buster Olney hits it on the head. Mid to upper tier starters on the market like Ricky Nolasco and Matt Garza suddenly see their value rise significantly. Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez also see their demands justified by waiting out a market to develop that will undoubtedly be a lot heavier than Toronto was anticipating. Hell, even Bartolo Colon is already counting how many cheeseburgers he can buy with his new-found riches.
The market did exactly as we expected it to. The smaller fish took the heavy bait early from teams that wanted to secure something while not breaking the bank. The bigger ones waited out the smaller fish so that they could swim in a much bigger pond. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays have seemingly reserved themselves from casting at all.
This leaves Toronto with a couple of choices. First, they may need to raise their expected payroll of $150 million if they want to get anything done. Second, they may need to part with a key piece, either at the big league level or in terms of prospects, if they truly want to land anyone of substance to stabilize the rotation.
Either way, the Blue Jays are clearly not where they want to be at this time, and they’ve suddenly found themselves backed into a corner.