Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays: Gavin Floyd still lurking amid rotation comeback

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Blue Jays pitcher Gavin Floyd isn’t the biggest name in the race for Toronto’s fifth starter’s job, but John Gibbons is ready to give him an even shot

Gavin Floyd is still on the long road back to becoming an established major league pitcher after throwing nearly 1000 innings from 2008-2012.

Running alongside Aaron Sanchez, Drew Hutchison, and Jesse Chavez, Floyd finds himself an afterthought in most conversations. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons says the veteran is part of an even playing field, though, and he does have a contract working in his favour.

I would even extend this list to include Roberto Hernandez as a dark horse candidate, but it’s easy to see why Floyd gets lost in the shuffle despite being one of the club’s most recent additions.

In Sanchez, the Blue Jays have one of their greatest points of debate. Just like last spring, the “bullpen or rotation” conversation has eaten up headlines, and as a longtime top prospect in the organization (dating back to his untouchable days), the bulked-up right-hander represents a homegrown face that seems to be due.

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Hutchison is a fascinating story of his own after his 2015 plummet from opening day starter to Buffalo, while the return of Jesse Chavez and his potential to pitch a strong first half will be working in his favour.

At the time of his signing, I made two incorrect assumptions about Gavin Floyd before details were released.

The first assumption would be that his deal would be a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Wrong (gasp!). He’ll earn a $1 million base salary on a Major League deal with another $1 million in available incentives.

Second, I envisioned Floyd headed for the bullpen from day one in an attempt to build the 2016 version of Liam Hendriks. With velocity that is still very much alive at age 33, another slight bump could make him a breakout ‘pen piece. Again, that isn’t the case (for now).

A brief stint at the MLB level with the Cleveland Indians late last season went a long way to him reuniting with general manager Ross Atkins and president Mark Shapiro in Toronto. With a Tommy John surgery and two elbow fractures in his not-so-distant medical past, this level of familiarity was key.

“The stuff is clearly still there,” Atkins told Jayson Stark of ESPN. “The depth to his pitches, arm-speed, velocity, it’s all there. They were all there at the end of last year. So now recovery and command are the only things left.”

Is he a favourite? Likely not. But Floyd has a lane in the race, regardless of how small his place in the spring training buzz may be.

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