Blue Jays: Rotation depth is dealt with, now catch the big fish
The Blue Jays have shored up their rotation depth by re-signing Robbie Ray, and now they should turn their attention to a bigger fish.
It’s no secret that the Blue Jays were going to seek some starting rotation reinforcements this offseason, and they’re off to a quick start getting that need taken care of.
On Saturday we learned that the Jays have re-signed Robbie Ray to a one-year, eight million dollar pact, which has the potential to be a nice (re)addition. The southpaw had a tough 2020 season overall, but he performed much better as a Blue Jay than he did before the trade from Arizona. As a back-end rotation option, it makes a lot of sense that they’d bring him back, especially on a one year deal.
With Ray in the fold along with Hyun Jin Ryu, Nate Pearson, Tanner Roark, Ross Stripling and more, the Blue Jays arguably have enough rotation depth to make it through the 2021 campaign, especially with others like Anthony Kay, Trent Thornton, Thomas Hatch, Julian Merryweather, and more waiting in the wings. That being said, simply making it through a full season isn’t the goal, and Ross Atkins and company should be looking to raise the floor of the group overall. Ideally, that would come by signing someone who could pitch as the #2 starter behind Ryu, and hopefully that someone who can provide stability to a rotation with a fair number of question marks.
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Signing Ray allows the Blue Jays to make that the main focus of their offseason, and at this point they can ignore most of the middle-tier of the pitching market. If they decide to trade Roark and they can find a taker, then it’s possible they could sign another starter of that ilk, but for now depth really isn’t the issue, especially after re-signing Ray. They were also able to get that depth for the reported eight million, and that should leave the payroll space they need to pursue a high-end option.
Whether that’s someone from the free agent market like a Trevor Bauer, Masahiro Tanaka, perhaps also re-signing Taijuan Walker, or turning to the trade market, they should have the resources they need either way. They’re also in a stronger position with a talented young core to help entice free agents, as the writing is on the wall that they should be contenders over the next five years or so. Whether it’s payroll space or tradable minor league assets, the Blue Jays are set up to put some of the final pieces in place.
What’s clear is that the Blue Jays liked what they saw in Ray enough to have him back, and perhaps they’ll even be rewarded with the All-Star level production he produced in 2017. The 29-year-old could play a significant role in their success next year, and I think it’s a gamble worth taking. For now though, his signing gives the Blue Jays the security to move on from concerns about depth and really focus on acquiring that difference maker. It’s a nice place to be this early in the offseason.