Blue Jays: Five paths to getting a top of the rotation starting pitcher

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 04: Pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu #99 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws against the Colorado Rockies during the fourth inning at Dodger Stadium on September 4, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 04: Pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu #99 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws against the Colorado Rockies during the fourth inning at Dodger Stadium on September 4, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /
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KANSAS CITY, MO – OCTOBER 23: David Price #14 of the Toronto Blue Jays reacts in the third inning while taking on the Kansas City Royals in game six of the 2015 MLB American League Championship Series at Kauffman Stadium on October 23, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO – OCTOBER 23: David Price #14 of the Toronto Blue Jays reacts in the third inning while taking on the Kansas City Royals in game six of the 2015 MLB American League Championship Series at Kauffman Stadium on October 23, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

Buy a pricey pitcher in a trade

If the Blue Jays can’t land one of the arms they’re looking at in free agency, there’s a good chance they could turn to the trade route. While that could mean a lot of things, there is a unique opportunity this off-season to take on money from teams looking to cut payroll, and the Blue Jays are in a position to do just that if they choose.

For example, there are plenty of reports floating around that the Boston Red Sox are looking to unload the three years and 96 million left on David Price‘s contract. He was still a productive starter last year when he was healthy, but the combination of his expensive contract and the Red Sox payroll pinch has them looking for ways to cut back. Price’s production won’t be easy to replace, but they could certainly spend a lot less to fill the role and allocate the money elsewhere, like trying to re-sign Mookie Betts next winter.

The same situation has developed with another former Blue Jay and the New York Yankees. After signing Gerrit Cole earlier this week, the Yankees are now pushing the third tier of the luxury tax, and would like to unload J.A. Happ‘s 17 million dollar contract as a result. In both cases, the Blue Jays would likely have the leverage to ask for a solid prospect or two to be attached to the trade in order to take on the full contract. In that case, the Blue Jays could fill the need for a top of the rotation arm, and also acquire another piece for their minor league system. It would just cost more than they’d typically spend in order to do so.

A third option could be to call the Chicago Cubs and ask about Yu Darvish. The Cubbies are reportedly looking to slash some payroll as well, and have been very quiet on the free agent market thus far. There are rumours that they’re waiting until they can trade an expensive contract before they add, and Darvish has four years and 81 million remaining on the deal he signed before the 2018 season. In that case, if the Blue Jays convinced the Cubs to trade Darvish, they likely wouldn’t get the potential added value of an attached prospect.

There could be other situations that pop up as the off-season develops, and we saw this concept used in order to get Chase Anderson earlier this off-season when the Brewers didn’t want to pay his 8.5 million for 2020. It’s entirely possible that the Blue Jays could use that same path twice this off-season, especially if they strike out on their remaining free agent targets.

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