The Blue Jays gave baseball and their fan base a pleasant surprise on Sunday by signing Hyun-Jin Ryu, and we have to give credit where it’s due.
It feels like we’ve been talking about it forever, and yet the off-season still has more than two months remaining before Spring Training will get underway. The Blue Jays entered the off-season with a desperate need to improve their starting rotation, and it’s been the primary topic of discussion since September around this team.
Despite the glaring need and the payroll availability, the overwhelming sentiment was that the Blue Jays would probably strike out in their pursuit of free agent starters. Things started to look more and more bleak as options like Zack Wheeler, Jake Odorizzi, Kyle Gibson, and many more came off of the free agent market. And just when it looked like the Blue Jays might strike out and have to turn to the trade market, they got their new ace when they signed Hyun-Jin Ryu to a four-year, 80 million dollar pact on Sunday night.
Blue Jays fans are understandably very excited about the news, as it gives the team a lot more legitimacy in their pursuit of getting back to the playoffs through an organizational rebuild. Ryu is an important piece that is needed, and getting him under contract is a big deal. Especially because most of us didn’t think it would happen.
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And for that, I tip my cap to Ross Atkins, Mark Shapiro, and the rest of the Blue Jays front office. I’ll give credit where credit is due, and I’ll happily eat my words that I didn’t think they’d offer a serious enough contract to bring in a pitcher of Ryu’s calibre. I know I’m not alone in that sentiment either, and I’m very pleased to be wrong.
Where do the Blue Jays go from here? It’s hard to say, but chances are they’re probably done adding to their rotation stables, save for maybe some depth that can pitch in the minor leagues on a two-way contract. The front office will still need to add to their bullpen before Opening day, although a lot of that work can likely come later in the off-season.
It’s also possible that the Blue Jays could look to look to improve their outfield, especially in centre field. That has been another topic of discussion throughout the off-season, as Teoscar Hernandez is likely a stretch up the middle, and Randal Grichuk profiles better in an outfield corner. However, now that Ryu is under contract, the urgency to fix the rest of the problems with this roster doesn’t feel like it has the same pressure. Even more importantly than that, it feels like the Blue Jays might actually do something if the right opportunity presents itself.
For many years, Blue Jays fans have had to sit back and accept excuses about why certain moves weren’t made. It got to the point that fans were expecting to be let down, but Sunday night’s announcement has certainly helped to change the narrative. Suddenly it doesn’t feel like the Blue Jays are employing the same penny-pinching front office executives that we complained about a week ago, and for that, I’m very thankful.