With the emergence of other capable bullpen arms, will the Blue Jays still have the same interest in re-signing Ken Giles after this season?
If there’s one thing we’ve learned about life in 2020, it’s that things can change in a real hurry.
For the Toronto Blue Jays, a lot has changed from the 2019 version of the team that finished with a 67-95 record. The roster is upgraded and improved, the emerging young stars have gained a lot more experience, and there have been a few pleasant surprises as well. On that latter note, the Blue Jays suddenly find themselves with a pretty talented bullpen, and that’s without their All-Star closer in Ken Giles.
Which leads me to a question I didn’t think I’d be asking a few weeks ago: Do the Blue Jays still need to re-sign Giles when he becomes a free agent this winter?
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The short answer is yes, as you can never have enough dynamic arms for the bullpen, or for the pitching staff in general. When healthy, Giles has proven to be an elite-level performer and those arms don’t just grow on trees. That said, he’s had an awfully difficult time staying healthy, and he’s going to need to prove that he can stay on a mound before the 2020 campaign is over in order to cash in as a free agent.
There are a lot of variables at play when it comes to a possible extension of the union, including Giles’ health, what he and his agent ask for, and how many teams line up to inquire about his services. I imagine the Blue Jays will want to let the remainder of the season play out before they make any decisions, and that would likely be in the pitcher’s best interest as well.
That said, Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro may want to see how the rest of the season goes for other pitchers as well, and that may help them determine if they want to invest in a multi-year deal to keep Giles in Toronto. Right now it looks like Jordan Romano is more than capable of handling a late-inning role, and he may even get a chance to close some games while Giles is on the shelf. Anthony Bass will also become a free agent against this winter, but he figures to be a lot cheaper than Giles, and has shown himself worthy of late-inning consideration as well.
It’s hard to imagine that the Blue Jays wouldn’t be able to fit Giles into their budget for next season and beyond, especially with so many pre-arbitration eligible contributors on the roster. That said, it’s not as simple as having the money or the payroll space, especially when it comes to spending on a volatile area like the bullpen. It’s been a rough investment for other teams when you look at recent examples like Craig Kimbrel in Chicago, Wade Davis in Colorado, or even the Mets acquiring Edwin Diaz and watching him struggle. It’s rare for a reliever to thrive for an extended period of time, and even more so after the age of 30, and the right-hander hits the milestone in September of this year.
If you asked me back in July if the Blue Jays should sign Ken Giles to an extension, I would have said yes with next to no hesitation. However, now that he’s dealing with yet another issue with his throwing arm, and we’re seeing others like Romano, Bass, Ryan Borucki, Thomas Hatch, Anthony Kay and more throwing very effectively out of the bullpen, I’m not so sure. I guess we’ll see how the rest of 2020 goes, but suddenly the urgency to lock down the closer’s role doesn’t feel so great.