McGowan began the season as the #5 starter for the Blue Jays, but struggled with stamina and performance issues before transitioning into a full-time bullpen role. In relief, McGowan enjoyed much greater success in most areas. McGowan has a power arm that could project into a back-of-the-bullpen role, but the Blue Jays are clearly not comfortable with his $4M price tag.
A career Blue Jay, McGowan has been with the organization since being selected in the 1st Round in 2000. It would not be surprising to see Alex Anthopoulos work to re-sign McGowan to a more affordable contract, perhaps ranging from $2M – $2.5M. Dustin McGowan is a known commodity with a long history in Toronto, and despite his age, he still could hold untapped potential as a bullpen arm.
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In Brandon Morrow’s situation, it was quite clear that his $10M option would be declined, as he has struggled to stay healthy and effective over the past two seasons. Morrow made just 16 starts between 2013 and 2014, a major disappointment after he was expected to be a quality #2 or #3 option in the Blue Jays rotation.
Brandon Morrow will be a wildcard entering Free Agency. The Blue Jays could be interested in his return as a bullpen arm, but in all likelihood, Morrow will be seeking a starting opportunity. All it takes is one team willing to take a chance, and a team could take a calculated risk with an incentive-heavy one year deal, perhaps with a team option. Keep in mind that Morrow is not long removed from the flashes of dominance he displayed from 2010-2012. If a team is willing to give him a shot at the rotation, though, they would be wise to have a strong backup plan.
The Blue Jays also declined the options on Sergio Santos and Justin Smoak, who remains under team control, while exercising options on Josh Thole and Adam Lind, before trading him to the Milwaukee Brewers for RP Marco Estrada.