Blue Jays offseason: 6 questions to answer before 2016
Oct 21, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marco Estrada (25) reacts after leaving the game during the eighth inning against the Kansas City Royals in game five of the ALCS at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Q1: Who joins Marcus Stroman and R.A. Dickey in the rotation?
Stroman is the only guaranteed holdover from the season-ending rotation in 2015, but I’m confident that the $12 million option on R.A. Dickey will be picked up by the club fairly quickly. First off, the Jays will look to their three departing arms.
Mark Buehrle is unlikely to return to Toronto even if he continues his Major League career, but expect the organization to hone in on both Marco Estrada and David Price. With Estrada, Toronto could opt to extend a qualifying offer to the 32-year old coming off a breakout season.
This is a risky proposition considering the high potential for regression, but if the offer is given to Estrada, the only two outcomes for the Jays are rotation security or a high draft pick. Estrada has expressed a desire to return to Toronto, too, so the club could also work on a multi-year extension.
While offering up $25-$30 million annually to David Price may go well for the first half of the contract, so many of those mega-deals turn sour in the latter half and tie the hands of franchises. Frankly, it’s impossible to forecast the state of a franchise six years down the road. Toronto will be in a crowded derby there, and while his time in Toronto could help, my expectations are fairly low.
Then, there’s the in-house options. The AAA and prospect ranks don’t offer many arms ready to push for an MLB spot, but Aaron Sanchez should quickly thrust himself into the competition. Things were finally beginning to click for the right-hander before his injury earlier in the year, and an offseason of positional certainty could benefit him.
There’s also Liam Hendriks, who enjoyed a career breakthrough as a reliever in 2015, bumping his velocity like none of us expected. I’d prefer to leave well enough alone, but the temptation will be there. Perhaps no conversation will be more polarizing than the one surrounding Roberto Osuna, though. More on that later…
Next: Q2: Making sense of the backup backstop