Blue Jays: Looking ahead to the free agent pitching market

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 31: Marco Estrada
BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 31: Marco Estrada /
1 of 4
Blue Jays
BALTIMORE, MD – AUGUST 31: Marco Estrada /

The Blue Jays will have to decide on a fifth starter, make a decision on re-signing Marco Estrada, and hope Aaron Sanchez is healthy in 2018. With that many variables, don’t be surprised if they’re in the market for some pitching help this offseason.

The Blue Jays entered the 2017 season expecting to have one of the strongest rotations in baseball. I feel like a broken record at this point, but if you haven’t been paying attention it goes like this: Aaron Sanchez only made eight starts due to fingernail and blister issues, J.A. Happ missed more than a month, Francisco Liriano struggled and was traded, and Marco Estrada has been inconsistent this year. Marcus Stroman has had an excellent year, but otherwise it’s been a lot of disappointment.

With Estrada set to be a free agent and there still being question marks about Sanchez’s future, the Blue Jays’ front office likely has to take a strong look at the free agent pitching market this offseason. There is some mutual interest between them and Estrada, but even if they do retain him they would be well served to look at least one more arm.

They could go with Joe Biagini, who has bounced back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen, or even look at other younger options including Ryan Borucki, or Chris Rowley. But if the front office wants to contend in 2018, as they have said they intend to, then they’ll need some experienced depth to help improve on their 2017 performance.

With that in mind, what are we looking at for free agent options this offseason? There are a few solid options to be sure, but it remains to be seen if a) the Jays bring back Estrada, and b) how much they’ll be willing to spend, especially with their upcoming arbitration cases this year. Yesterday, I did a similar piece on outfield options, and as I did in that one, I’ve assigned an arbitrary probability rating based purely on my own opinion. Take it for what it’s worth.

Let’s have a look.