Blue Jays: Looking ahead to the free agent pitching market

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 31: Marco Estrada
BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 31: Marco Estrada /
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TOKYO, JAPAN – NOVEMBER 12: Shohei Ohtani
TOKYO, JAPAN – NOVEMBER 12: Shohei Ohtani /

Top Tier options

*Update*- Rumours of Marco Estrada’s imminent signing broke after I wrote this piece (because, of course), but I decided it’s still worth having a look at anyway. The top tier options are likely completely off the table if Estrada’s signing becomes official.*

Shohei Otani

We’ve talked about Otani a fair bit around here lately, and with good reason. He has the potential to be one of the most talented players to ever make the move across the pond, assuming he does just that during the upcoming offseason.

He’ll be pursued by literally every team in baseball, so the Blue Jays will have to make a pretty strong case to get him on their roster. Our own Jim Scott made a pretty solid case for just that yesterday.

The 23 year old can throw over 100 miles per hour, has a devastating slider, and is also dominant hitter for the Nippon Ham Fighters. If he were to wait two more years he could command a much bigger salary, but it sounds like he’s done waiting. The Blue Jays could offer him an immediate spot in the rotation, potential DH bats in between (maybe?), and a potentially more comfortable place to live in Toronto than to some US Markets. At the very least, they have to throw their hat in the ring here.

Probability of being a Blue Jays= C-

Yu Darvish

I can remember former GM Alex Anthopoulos lamenting the missed opportunity to sign Yu Darvish, and the Blue Jays could get a second chance this offseason. He’ll likely be the most expensive arm on the list, and he comes with injury risk, but he’s also extremely talented.

After spending his entire career with the Rangers, Darvish was traded to the Dodgers for their stretch run this year, and he’s scheduled to be a free agent at season’s end. The Dodgers may choose to retain him and throw whatever money is needed at the equation, but if he truly hits the open market then the Blue Jays should at least check in.

If he can stay healthy throughout his next contract, Darvish has the potential to be an expensive bargain. He won’t get the 30 million that other aces are looking for these days, so if he can reach his potential then he could offer a lot of value.

Probability of being a Blue Jays= C-

Jake Arrieta

I’m listing him here because he’s one of the premier options on the market this season, and there are no guarantees that the Cubs bring him back. He’s become an All-Star since moving to the National League a few years back, and has had a much better second half after struggling before the All-Star break.

He won’t get the same contract he would have if he had been a free agent before this year, but Arrieta is due for a nice payday, one I don’t think the Blue Jays will fork over for the former Cy Young winner.

Probability of being a Blue Jay= D-

Marco Estrada

I could probably include him in the Mid-Tier options on the next page, but I’m putting him here because this is how I would predict the Blue Jays will use their money in the rotation. He wants to return, and the Blue Jays know more about his potential upside than anyone. It’s a fit that makes sense, especially if it’s on a one year, “show me” deal.

*Note- Again, it sounds like the two sides are nearing agreement on an extension, as announced by Jon Morosi on Twitter on Tuesday night.*

Probability of being a Blue Jays= B+