Blue Jays: Missing out on free agents isn’t always a bad thing

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 25: Rick Porcello #22 of the Boston Red Sox at Globe Life Park in Arlington on September 25, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 25: Rick Porcello #22 of the Boston Red Sox at Globe Life Park in Arlington on September 25, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The knee-jerk reaction from Blue Jays fans has been to get upset whenever a free agent starting pitcher signs elsewhere. Sometimes missing out is a blessing.

The Blue Jays are still on the hunt for a high-end starting pitcher, and chances are the fan base (myself included) won’t be satisfied until the front office signs someone or swings a significant trade.

Lately we’ve heard a lot about the pursuit of Hyun-Jin Ryu, and it sounds like the Korean southpaw could make his decision sometime in the next few days, although that’s not guaranteed. The market has been moving very quickly for starting pitchers though, and even though the Blue Jays have been “in” on discussions for several of the top options, so far they’ve only landed Tanner Roark on a two-year, 24 million dollar pact. He’ll certainly help, but the front office should have their sights set higher on another addition.

While it’s been understandably frustrating to watch Gerrit Cole (Yankees), Stephen Strasburg (Nationals), Zack Wheeler (Phillies), Jake Odorizzi (Twins), Madison Bumgarner (Diamondbacks), Michael Pineda (Twins) and even Kyle Gibson (Rangers) agree to sign elsewhere, I’ve noticed a recent trend on social media with the Blue Jays fan base. We’re now starting to get upset when just about any starting pitcher signs with a different team, and that’s a foolish place to be. Thankfully the front office has a little more patience than we do, at least in that regard.

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For example, yesterday Wade Miley signed a two-year, 15 million dollar deal with the Reds that could include a third year for 24 million total. My reaction? It’s a shame he didn’t sign with an AL East team.

I felt the same way when Rick Porcello signed with the New York Mets, especially after it was reported that the Blue Jays had been in touch with his agent. Personally, I didn’t want to see the Jays spending money on someone like Porcello or Miley, because there’s a chance they already have starters that are just as good. Miley’s overall stats from 2019 look solid, but he was dreadful over the final month of the season (16.68 ERA in five appearances), and posted a 5.07 ERA in the second half overall. Porcello had a 5.52 ERA last year, and outside of his solid seasons in 2016 and 2018, I feel he’s very overrated, even with a Cy Young award in his cabinet.

Again, this is just my opinion (and you can see above that Sportsnet’s Mike Wilner also agrees), but I don’t see any point in paying something like 10 million for Porcello when there are other, better options. I still think the Blue Jays would be well-served to sign someone like Ryu or even Dallas Keuchel, or perhaps trade for a starter reportedly on the market like David Price. However, if they can’t get a true upgrade on what they already have, I’d rather see that money spent elsewhere, and the opportunity given to the young starters already in the stables.

Ideally the Blue Jays could enter the season with a rotation that looks something like Ryu, Roark, Chase Anderson, Matt Shoemaker, and likely Trent Thornton. However, I’m not exactly opposed to seeing what they have in Anthony Kay, or if Ryan Borucki can bounce back to the performance we saw in 2018 before he dealt with injuries. The team and those young pitchers are better off if they are allowed to progress at the pace of their own performance, but I don’t think there’s much of an argument about whether they’re ready for the challenge.

I believe the Blue Jays should make that hard pursuit of Ryu, Keuchel, or maybe a trade target, but if they can’t land one of those impact starters, then the strategy should likely shift. Instead of spending 10 million on someone like Porcello, I’d honestly rather see a roll of the dice on a pitcher like Taijuan Walker, or even Danny Salazar, who both have battled significant injuries and should come very cheap. In that case, the young pitchers would have to beat out the veterans and earn their place, as was the idea last year by signing Clay Buchholz and Clayton Richard, although I’ll admit that didn’t really work out.

Next. It might be time to move on from the free agent market. dark

As for losing sleep over guy’s like Miley, Porcello, Jordan Lyles, Martin Perez, or even former Blue Jay Brett Anderson, it’s simply not worth it. The Blue Jays needs to make an impact addition to their starting rotation, and anything else just doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. Feel free to get upset if Ryu signs elsewhere (I likely will too), but as for these mid to low-tier options, sometimes “missing out” can be a blessing.