This was arguably the most difficult spot to choose from, as there have been plenty of failed pitching experiments over the years, and lots of draft picks who didn’t fulfill their promise.
Pitching is the most difficult spot to develop for big league teams, and the bullpen is often made up of failed starters, so the tales are endless here. For every success story there are usually 10, 20, or 50 failed arms that couldn’t quite cut it in a big league rotation. There’s a reason the best are so sought after and highly paid.
For the Blue Jays you could make a list of a couple dozen worthwhile candidates throughout franchise history, but I’ve done my best to narrow it down to five. Feel free to disagree with me, as there are plenty of good choices here.
1- Mike Sirotka
Traded to the Blue Jays from the White Sox, Sirotka was the centre piece that came back when Toronto shipped David Wells to Chicago. Sirotka had just come off a season with a 15-10 record and a 3.79 ERA across 193 innings pitched, and looked like a solid piece in return for Wells at the time.
Unfortunately the former White Sox hurler never threw a pitch in a Blue Jay uniform, as a torn labrum kept him from continuing his professional career in Toronto. That one didn’t work out so well for the Blue Jays.
2- Josh Johnson
Back in 2013, the Blue Jays pulled off a major blockbuster with the Marlins and looked like they could be real contenders for the American League pennant. Sending minor leaguers and other pieces south, the Blue Jays acquired Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio, John Buck, and the centre-piece of the deal, Josh Johnson.
Then-GM Alex Anthopoulos had had interested in Johnson for years, and he was finally able to pry him away from the Marlins and bring him in to bolster a Blue Jays rotation that already featured Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow. It was supposed to be a move that turned the Blue Jays into contenders, but instead it backfired in many ways.
Johnson was never productive as a Blue Jay, making just 16 starts in Toronto. He signed a few minor league deals afterward, but he was never healthy enough to make it back to the big leagues after that trade.
3- Kyle Drabek
I mentioned that I would get back to the return for Roy Halladay later, and this is that time. Drabek was the centre-piece of the trade that sent Halladay to Philadelphia, and it was rumoured that the Phillies were very reluctant to give up on him back then.
The son of a former NL Cy Young winner (Doug Drabek), Kyle was unable to find his form at the highest level despite showing promise throughout the minor league system. He threw 172.1 innings as a Blue Jay over five years, and was last seen in the Diamondbacks’ bullpen in 2016.
4- Erik Hanson
Brought in as a free agent and a potential difference maker, Hanson was anything but in a Blue Jays uniform. After making the AL All-Star team the year before as a member of the Red Sox, the Blue Jays signed him away thinking they had picked up a significant arm to shore up their rotation. Unfortunately things never worked out that way.
Over the span of three seasons, Hanson started 45 games for the Blue Jays, pitching to a 5.63 ERA, and a 1.679 WHIP. He did managed 214.2 innings in his first season, but that came along with a 5.41 ERA, a 13-17 record, and represented the highlight of his career in Toronto.
5- Deck McGuire
I very nearly listed Ricky Romero as the fifth member of the All-Time Busts team, but there’s someone else that deserves the spot even more.
You might remember Deck McGuire from a short stint with the Blue Jays earlier in the 2018 season, but he was actually a first round pick of the team back in 2010 as well.
The draft is infamous because it featured the likes of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado in the first three picks, and the Blue Jays selected McGuire with the 11th pick in the first round. While some pitching prospects miss, it was what came after McGuire that truly made this one sting.