Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays: Which potential free agents could be of interest next winter?

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 20: Justin Smoak #14 of the Toronto Blue Jays watches as he hits a game-winning solo home run in the ninth inning during MLB game action against the Tampa Bay Rays at Rogers Centre on September 20, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 20: Justin Smoak #14 of the Toronto Blue Jays watches as he hits a game-winning solo home run in the ninth inning during MLB game action against the Tampa Bay Rays at Rogers Centre on September 20, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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TORONTO, ON – AUGUST 24: Ryan Borucki #56 of the Toronto Blue Jays is congratulated by Marcus Stroman #6 after coming out of the game in the seventh inning during MLB game action against the Philadelphia Phillies at Rogers Centre on August 24, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. The players are wearing special jerseys as part of MLB Players Weekend. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

Starting Pitching

While the bullpen is full of question marks at the moment as well, I would argue that the starting rotation is the biggest area of need for the Blue Jays this winter. They have enough arms to potentially fill out a rotation, but there are a lot of question marks around a group that includes Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Borucki, and youngsters like Thomas Pannone, Sean Reid-Foley, and Sam Gaviglio.

It’s possible that they could have an emergence from the group above, or other young arms could force their way into the picture. However, with a talented position player group on the way, it makes the most sense to me to spend on the rotation.

ESPN’s David Schoenfield did a “Way too early free agent predictions” piece the other day, which laid out the top 30 options that could hit the market, again, if they’re not extended before then. The list of arms is impressive at least in career resume.

We’re talking about a group that includes Gerrit Cole, Chris Sale, Madison Bumgarner, Justin Verlander, Zack Wheeler, Rick Porcello, Miles Mikolas, Cole Hamels, Jhoulys Chacin, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Sonny Gray. That list will get whittled down a bit with extensions, but there is a lot of talent to choose from.

Of course, the Blue Jays would have to make an enticing enough offer to lure some of those players away from their current situations, but the prospect of joining the next generation of Blue Jays could be of legitimate interest to free agents going forward.

In an ideal world Borucki would continue to show he’s a legitimate rotation piece, and both Stroman and Sanchez would be healthy and reach their full potential. In that case the need for high-end pitching wouldn’t be as great, but with both Sanchez and Stroman due to be free agents after the 2020 season, it’s a situation that will eventually need to be addressed.

There’s also the possibility that the rotation could be addressed through the trade market, especially as the Blue Jays continue to stock pile useful minor league pieces. Still, it’s fun to think about a Bumgarner or Wheeler joining the kids in Toronto.

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