Blue Jays: Predictions as Free Agency opens

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - AUGUST 23: Manager John Gibbons
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - AUGUST 23: Manager John Gibbons /
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Starting Pitcher

Here’s where I think the Blue Jays will spend the majority of their money this offseason, and also the spot where I have the potential for the biggest miss in my predictions. While I would love to see them pursue someone like Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta, I don’t see the payroll jumping up that much.

Which is why the second tier options like Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn are so appealing, but unfortunately that’s the case for many other clubs as well. Those two should be mid-rotation arms in a worst case scenario, and I would expect that Atkins and Shapiro will check on them, but I’ll ultimately guessing they’ll land elsewhere.

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Instead I’ll go to the next sub-tier, where I believe the next Blue Jays’ starting pitcher resides, and several other potentially useful options. The thing about established pitching though, is even when you’re talking about a third tier to free agency, there is still a cost associated. Guys like Tyler Chatwood, Andrew Cashner and even Chris Tillman have a realistic shot at multi-year deals for 10 million or more a year. That’s the way baseball values pitching.

For the Blue Jays, I’m going to go with a prediction of Jason Vargas. The savvy veteran may have pitched himself out of a multi-year deal with his performance in the second half, but was an All-star after leading the AL in ERA prior to the All-Star break. Unfortunately things fell apart for him over his final 16 starts, and a 6.66 ERA over that time leaves him in an interesting position this offseason.

He’s never been one to rely on velocity in his arsenal though, and at 35 years old it’s a reasonable expectation to think he could bounce back, and likely do so on a relatively cheap deal. The reason I expect the Blue Jays to pursue a veteran for the rotation is the question marks surrounding Aaron Sanchez‘s health in 2018, and when both Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ become free agents after next season.

To me, Vargas makes sense on a one year deal with a club option for a second year if he performs well. Admittedly that was the toughest position for me to make a choice, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they went bargain hunting/gave Joe Biagini another crack at the position. However, it’s the Sanchez finger situation that has me choosing Vargas, and I hope the front office is thinking with a similar mindset.

Prediction:     One year for 9 million, club option for 11 million with 1 million buyout. 

Next: Justin Smoak a finalist for Comeback Player of the Year

There you have it, if my predictions come true than the Blue Jays will have a new stable of players including Jarrod Dyson, Zach Duke, Jedd Lowrie, Chris Stewart, and Jason Vargas. While there isn’t a star in the group, the Blue Jays already have plenty of star power on their roster, and the supplementary players are what could make all the difference in the world in 2018.