It’s expected that the Cleveland Indians will likely allow Danny Salazar to walk this winter, and the Blue Jays may be wise to take a gamble on the 29-year-old.
There’s a good chance that as long as Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins work for the Blue Jay, that we’ll automatically consider the Cleveland Indians when it come to roster building in Toronto. We’ve seen it happen before when they swapped Josh Donaldson for Julian Merryweather, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see another trade come together at some point before their tenure is over.
There’s the trade route, and then there’s also the free agent market that could include former Cleveland players that could catch the eye of the Blue Jays’ front office, and I’d like to discuss one long-shot possibility today. I think the Blue Jays should keep an eye on what happens to Danny Salazar over the winter.
If you’re familiar with his recent work then the suggestion might sound insane, but hear me out before you dismiss it altogether. Cleveland would have to decide to cut ties with the former All-Star before that becomes a possibility anyway, but according to www.mlbtraderumors.com, it’s expected that he’ll likely end up hitting the free agent market.
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The notion seemed very unlikely a few years ago, especially back in 2016 when he went 11-6 with a 3.87 ERA and pitched for the AL All-Star team. Since then though, the 29-year-old has battled a plethora of injuries that have kept him off the mound, making just one appearance in 2019 after missing the entire 2018 campaign. It’s that reason that Cleveland is expected to pass on his 4.5 million dollar contract for 2020.
With his value at an all-time low, there’s a very good chance that Salazar will be looking for a one-year, “show me” type of contract, and Toronto could be a great place for that sort of thing. There’s an obvious need in the rotation, and I’m sure that Salazar would be an inexpensive gamble, much in the same vein as Clay Buchholz and Clayton Richard from a season ago. This time, the Blue Jays would likely have a higher upside for a similar price, although there’s probably more reason to doubt that he can stay healthy given his recent history.
The good news is that the Blue Jays should have more rotation depth in 2020, especially if they add a more established start as well, as expected. With young arms like Trent Thornton, Ryan Borucki, Anthony Kay, Jacob Waguespack, T.J. Zeuch, and eventually Nate Pearson, they should have improved depth, which could allow for a gamble on a guy like Salazar.
It wouldn’t be the type of signing that would make or break the 2020 season for the Blue Jays, but they’re going to need to add some low-cost options to their starting stables anyway, so why not have a long look at someone that Shapiro and Atkins are very familiar with? If it happens to work out then the Blue Jays should have a decent trade chip on their hands for July, and if not then they shouldn’t be out more than a few million. Considering where their payroll is at the moment, that’s a risk they can certainly afford to take.
Because of the familiarity with the front office and the potential opportunity to earn a rotation job, Salazar seems like a reasonable fit to me. We’ll see whether or not Cleveland ends up cutting him loose, but it’s a situation worth keeping an eye on.