Starting with the starters
I’ve written about the starting rotation an awful lot this offseason, and so far my opinion really hasn’t changed much. That’s because the Blue Jays are still in the same place they were after they re-signed Robbie Ray, which has it’s pros and cons.
The good news is that the Jays have better depth in their rotation than they’ve had for a few years now. Unfortunately that depth doesn’t include a lot of high-end options, but they have a lot of arms that could do the job. That list includes Ray, Hyun Jin Ryu, Nate Pearson, Tanner Roark, Ross Stripling, Anthony Kay, Trent Thornton, Thomas Hatch, Julian Merryweather, and possible debuts from top prospects like Alek Manoah, or maybe even Simeon Woods Richardson later in the year. For once, depth really isn’t the problem, but that doesn’t mean they should settle with what they have.
The problem with this year’s free agent class is that Trevor Bauer stands alone as the only “ace” available as a free agent. After watching both Blake Snell and Yu Darvish dealt to the Padres in separate swaps, the market for that kind of premium arm is getting very limited. It’s possible that the Reds could be convinced to trade Luis Castillo or Sonny Gray, or MAYBE you could talk the Cubs into letting go of Kyle Hendricks (for a king’s ransom) but the options are dwindling fast.
Keeping that in mind, I’d like to see the Blue Jays spend the bulk of their available payroll to improve other areas of the team. That doesn’t mean that I think they should leave the rotation alone though, so I’d propose the following:
- Sign Masahiro Tanaka (mlbtraderumors has him down for three years and 39 million)
- Sign James Paxton to a pillow contract of one year and 10 million
- Total commitment: 23 million per year.
You may not be getting the A-type of starter that we’ve all dreamed about, but this would give you the potential for almost as much value as long as Paxton bounced back and stays healthy. And suddenly your rotation depth looks even better.
9- Thornton, etc
It’s very possible that the front office would be satisfied with just one more starter, but the longer the offseason goes, the more they’ll have to tweak their game plan.
And remember, I said “ideal offseason”, not what I predict will happen. That theme will come up again later, so I’m just trying to hammer it home a few times here. Having both Tanaka and Paxton join the rotation would give them some solid veteran depth, and it’d have an extra dose of fun having taken them away from the Yankees’ option board. I’d sign up for that.