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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BOSTON, MA – SEPTEMBER 10: Alex Cobb
BOSTON, MA – SEPTEMBER 10: Alex Cobb /

Mid-Tier

Alex Cobb

Cobb has spent his entire career in the AL East with the Tampa Bay Rays, so the Blue Jays are intimately familiar with his upside. He had Tommy John surgery and missed more than entire season, but has been back at full strength in 2017 and back to his dominant, yet underrated self.

On the season Cobb is 11-10 with a 3.63 ERA in 171.1 innings, a nice bounce back from the arm injury. He’ll be just 30 years old when the 2018 season opens, and is a candidate to perform better than what his market will likely reward him in free agency.

The Blue Jays were among the teams that were reported to have interest the other day, but will likely be joined by several suitors for his services. He made just four million this season, so he’ll be due for a nice raise wherever he ends up.

Probability of being a Blue Jay= C

Lance Lynn

Lynn is another pitcher that I would argue has been underrated throughout his career. He is 11-7 with a 3.09 ERA in St. Louis this season, and has thrown 180.1 innings for the Cardinals. He missed the 2016 season after having Tommy John surgery as well, but has been very solid throughout his career in the National League.

The 30 year old is not expected to return to St. Louis next season, and like Cobb he could provide tremendous value depending on the contract he ultimately settles on. He’s performed like a top of the rotation starter, but hasn’t always gotten the credit for his work either. Those guys tend to be the type that the Blue Jays target, so don’t be surprised if there are reports of interest.

Probability of being a Blue Jay= C-

Jason Vargas

Vargas was exceptional in the first half of the 2017 season, and earned himself a place on the All-Star team while pitching for the Kansas City Royals. He’s come back down to earth in the second half, but he’s still 16-10 with a 4.19 ERA in 29 starts this year.

I don’t know that I see him as a terribly likely fit, but he’s another underrated type that could end up being a bargain for his next team. Pitching is always valuable, but if Vargas falls in the range where the Blue Jays see solid value, it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise ever. At 34, I’m sure he’s looking for a longer deal than the Blue Jays would likely be interested in, though.