The Blue Jays have one year of arbitration control on Matt Shoemaker if they choose to use it, but so far they’ve dragged out the decision. Why?
I’ve been critical of the Blue Jays’ front office at times over the past few years, but I’ll admit that so far I mostly like what I’m seeing, or at least reading in the rumour mill. From most reports, it sounds like the Blue Jays have been fairly aggressive in their efforts toward improving their roster for 2020, and that’s a great sign to yours truly.
There are a lot of different ways they could improve the Blue Jays for next season, and there are a lot of potential moving parts. Making one decision could mean they’re out on another, and that’s generally part of what takes time once free agency opens. However, in the case of the Blue Jays’ need for starting pitching, I’m a little confused about why they’re taking their time on the decision to bring back Matt Shoemaker for 2020.
At the moment, the Blue Jays have the option of retaining the 33-year-old for next season, as he has one year remaining of arbitration eligibility. To be fair, it sounds like there have been discussions about a new contract that could cover more than next season, but I’m a little surprised that there’s been a delay with this situation. I’d be very surprised if the resolution didn’t include Shoemaker sticking around, but that possibility still exists.
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According to a recent article from Sportnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith, the Blue Jays may be “simply playing out the clock to the Dec. 2 tender deadline with Shoemaker”, which they are allowed to do. That extra time will help them evaluate their other potential options in the starting rotation, possibly determining whether there is a need for Shoemaker with the other moves they could make. That said, it’s hard to imagine that a productive, inexpensive veteran like Shoemaker wouldn’t fit with such a pitching-needy club.
Nicholson-Smith’s article mentioned that the Blue Jays reportedly wanted a better deal than the 3.5 million they paid him last season, potentially lowering his salary to somewhere around the three million dollar mark, but also including a club option. It’s not known what Shoemaker’s agent is asking for, but chances are the two sides are doing a dance around a second guaranteed year, and/or the salary for 2020.
The Blue Jays may be reluctant to include that second guaranteed year because of his injury history, but also because of the young starters they have on the cusp of being full-time MLB regulars. Trent Thornton likely joins Chase Anderson as the only two guaranteed members of the rotation for 2020 at the moment, but the rest of the group that includes Ryan Borucki, Anthony Kay, Jacob Waguespack, T.J. Zeuch, and eventually Nate Pearson will be counted on as well. If they sign one or two more starters in addition to Anderson and possibly Shoemaker, that will effect the opportunities they can provide their young pitchers. That said, we all know that you need more than five starters to get through a 162 game season as well.
The good news is there’s mutual interest between Shoemaker and the Blue Jays, and despite the fact that I thought this decision would be made by now, chances are it’s just a matter of time.