The Toronto Blue Jays should steer clear of aging free agent Masahiro Tanaka and instead focus their efforts on the likes of Taijuan Walker. It has been previously reported that the 32-year old is seeking a one-year contract in excess of $15 million.
According to Pat Ragazzo of MetsMerized, the Blue Jays are reportedly showing interest in Tanaka having kept in contact with the hurler throughout the offseason. It had been previously speculated that Tanaka would return to Japan if he was unable to secure a contract with the New York Yankees.
The funds could be better invested on Taijuan Walker who still remains unsigned and from all accounts enjoyed his tenure in Toronto. The 28-year old was healthy last season and appeared to finally turn a corner in harnessing his true potential .In 11 starts, Walker sported a 2.70 earned run average while fanning 8.4 batters per nine innings. Following his trade to Toronto, Walker surrendered just four runs in six starts for the Jays pitching to the tune of an impressive 1.37 earned run average.
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Walker earned just $2 million last season and is definitely in line for a raise but he may be a worthy investment on a two or three year pact with an average annual commitment of around $10-$12 million per season.
In a recent interview with David Laurila of Fangraphs, Walker was more than complimentary about his time with the Blue Jays organization.
"I mean, I feel like the Blue Jays are pretty far ahead of the game with all the technology, all the data, and the way they set it up. They’re really prepared. Pete Walker is amazing. I wish I’d have had more time to work on stuff with him.”"
Aside from Walker, free agent pitchers Jake Odorizzi, James Paxton and Chris Archer could be better bang for their buck than Tanaka. Over the past three seasons combined, Tanaka has accumulated a 3.92 earned run average although his dominance continues to wain with each passing season.
Tanaka is an upgrade over some of the current rostered options, however, the proposed $20 million could be better suited for someone with a little more upside and not on the decline of their career.