Signing both Clay Buchholz and Bud Norris on Thursday will certainly help the pitching staff this season, but there may be a potential domino effect too.
The Blue Jays finally added some pitching to their depth chart on Thursday, bringing in a pair of veterans to the fold early in the Spring Training schedule. Bud Norris was the first to agree to a reported MiLB contract, and Clay Buchholz followed shortly thereafter.
Let me be clear that I’m pleased to see that the front office made a move to improve their pitching staff, even if neither new addition is expected to be a premium contributor. That said, there will be a trickle down effect that could change things in the Blue Jays’ clubhouse.
First of all, the rotation dynamic has just changed a bit with the addition of Buchholz. Chances are the 5th rotation spot is going to come down to a competition between Clayton Richard, and Ryan Borucki. Richard was acquired in a trade earlier this offseason in a trade with the Padres and was expect to pitch at the back end of the rotation. However, it’s possible that he’ll pitch out of the bullpen now, as he has earlier in his career.
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As for Borucki, he was arguably the best starter the Blue Jays had last season, but given his minor league options and the talk that he isn’t guaranteed a rotation spot, it’s possible that he could be in a battle for a big league job this spring. In my humble opinion, Borucki absolutely needs a spot in rotation for a wide range of reasons, and I’m confident he’ll get one. That said, he’ll need to pitch well this spring in order to guarantee.
When it comes to the bullpen, there is a little more flexibility and it will be easier to fit new acquisition Bud Norris into the picture. The Jays will probably sport a bullpen that includes Ken Giles, Ryan Tepera, and a few others, but there is more of an open opportunity there, and more options with minor league options. There is an interesting dynamic with Elvis Luciano also needing a 25 man roster spot in order to stay with the Blue Jays due to the Rule 5 draft selection, and that is slightly more difficult with another arm in the picture.
As I mentioned above, none of this is a bad thing for the overall picture, but it does change things a little bit in advance of Opening Day. We’ve been waiting for Atkins to add to the pitching staff all winter, and thankful that he finally did.