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


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

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.