Blue Jays and FA pitchers: An Ace vs a Pair of Jacks


Free agent season is almost upon us, and the Blue Jays are in the enviable position of having money to spend and only a limited number of holes to fill.

Most would agree that their biggest need is in the starting rotation, where they look to lose Buehrle, Price and Estrada.  Where people do not agree, however, is how to best spend the money available. Would the Jays be best served by chasing a Price or a Cueto, and counting on internal candidates or trades to fill the remainder of the rotation?  Or would they be better served by signing two (or more?) mid-range starters?  And if the latter, should the Jays target safe-but-limited-upside or should they gamble on players with a lower floor but (possibly?) a higher ceiling?  Are ground-ball pitchers still a priority, or has Marco Estrada demonstrated that flyballers can be successful too?

In a characteristically excellent article, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs has provided his estimate of the average annual salaries that the top 50 free agents will receive.  Of those 50, 17 are starting pitchers, as follows:

Which brings me to today’s game!

Here are the rules.  You have $35 million left to spend on starting pitching (you have already traded for, or signed, a backup catcher and some bullpen help).  You can have any combination of the above pitchers, as long as the aggregate AAV is less than $35m.  Every one of them will come to Toronto for the years and at the price shown.  You get no points for having money left over.

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My pick?  I would be very tempted to choose Zimmerman + Jeff the Shark, but I suspect that I would go for Kazmir + Chen.  I would love to have Price, but given the multiple holes in the Jays’ rotation, I could not justify putting all of my eggs in one basket.  Of course, other factors could also influence my decision.  As for example – if the Jays did the Tulo-for-Harvey trade that I have been harping on forever, a rotation of Price – Harvey – Stro – Dickey – just about anybody would look awful good.

Of course, this is an artificial exercise.  Left-over money very much does matter, and certain of these pitchers would be more likely to accept a Jays offer than others.  Still, I remain optimistic that the Jays’ 2015 (and the many positive things said by players like Tulo and Price) have enhanced the perception of the Jays, and of Toronto as a place to live and play.

The bottom line?  I have told you my picks.  Your turn!