Blue Jays: Morosi on free agent plan, Jeff Francis retires


The Blue Jays are done looking at impact starting arms according to Jon Morosi, and 2015 Buffalo Bisons star Jeff Francis is hanging up the cleats

The slow, rusted Blue Jays Rumor Mill continues to creak around its axis without producing much of consequence. FOX Sports MLB insider Jon Morosi joined the Blundell Show on The Fan 590 in Toronto this morning to discuss what’s next with the Blue Jays. It went like you might expect.

“The Leafs are as serious as the Jays are about adding a number two pitcher,” Morosi said when asked about names like Mike Leake and Kenta Maeda. The Blue Jays are also as serious as the Leafs are about finding a number one centre, but I digress.

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Hearing this shouldn’t be news to anybody, of course, and Morosi suggested that the Jays will continue shopping among the lower-level arms to fill the back end of their rotation, bullpen and depth in AAA Buffalo. Among the names he mentioned were Doug Fister, Joe Blanton, Henderson Alvarez, Edwin Jackson and Burke Badenhop.

One worry I have with targeting number five starters is that it may not appeal them to individual player preference. Yes, the Toronto bats and gloves offer great potential for any starter, but with Jesse Chavez, Drew Hutchison and potentially Aaron Sanchez in the competition, the job is not guaranteed. For a free agent starter looking to re-establish value, there are “safer” MLB fifth jobs elsewhere. By this logic, the Jays may appeal more favorably to middle-of-rotation arms (which they’re reportedly not chasing, so…).

A wave of minor league signings should be expected relatively soon, too. Not only to provide some basement depth for the 25-man roster, but to give the Buffalo Bisons a baseball team. The rotation is definitely an area of need, where Scott Diamond now takes over the role of token Canadian lefty from Jeff Francis. On Tuesday, the 34-year old Francis announced his retirement.

His brief stint (22.0 IP) with the big club was scary, but Francis provided Toronto with the perfect AAA depth. Much like fellow veteran lefty Randy Wolf, he kept the Buffalo rotation stable with a productive and low-maintenance arm. Over 92.0 innings with the Bisons, Francis earned a 2.35 average and 1.054 WHIP.

Next: Breaking down Hutchison's 2015 struggles

When looking for AAA pitching depth, 2015 Jeff Francis is all you can reasonably hope for. The AAA level can be a good place to stash high-upside arms or reclamation projects, hoping to catch one bolt of lightning for the Major League club, but steady arms are required around them to keep things balanced. Otherwise, arms like Chad Jenkins are forced to bounce back and forth between the rotation and ‘pen to cover for needs, limiting their own potential ceilings.

The trade market will continue to be Toronto’s best avenue for adding an impact Major League arm, but unless they find the rare team wanting to add a Ben Revere, not just willing to, it would require dipping into the pool of Kevin Pillar, Dalton Pompey and prospects.