Blue Jays: What’s left on Ross Atkins’ offseason checklist?
Since we just talked about the bullpen we may as well address the starting rotation. In all honesty, there’s a good chance the group is already set and will include the likes of Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Ryan Borucki, Matt Shoemaker, and Clayton Richard. Beyond them are some younger options like Sean Reid-Foley, Thomas Pannone, and Trent Thornton, who could all start the year in Triple-A Buffalo.
If everything goes well there’s potential for the rotation to be reasonably solid, but it’s equally possible things could go the other way. We saw Sanchez continue to battle with injuries for the second year in a row in 2018, and Stroman only managed 19 starts around shoulder and blister problems. Shoemaker has had a lot of problems staying healthy because of a wonky forearm, and it’s hard to say what they’ll get out of Richard at this point in his career.
Add it all up and there’s potential for a lot of strain on the younger arms next season. Beyond Borucki, Reid-Foley, Pannone, and Thornton, there’s another tier of options that could include Sam Gaviglio, David Paulino, Hector Perez, Jacob Waguespack, and more. However, the Blue Jays could probably still benefit from giving most of those guys more time in the minor leagues, which is why I’m hoping they’re still keeping an eye on the market.
Clayton Richard has a history of flipping back and forth between the bullpen and the rotation, and that scenario could allow the Blue Jays to start the year with another veteran on the roster. I don’t expect that they’ll spend a great deal of money if they do, but there could be deals to be had on guys like Ervin Santana, Gio Gonzalez, and many others.
My concerns with their rotation depth have lessened now that the trade chatter around Stroman and Sanchez has quieted down, but there is still time for that to change. It’s also one area I’m not necessarily expecting the front office to address any further, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt if they did.