The last high-profile free agent from the 2020/2021 off-season went off the board when starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi signed a two-year deal with the Houston Astros (a third-year player option included).
All off-season the Blue Jays have been rumoured to be interested in Odorizzi and were even speaking with his representatives last off-season before he signed the qualifying offer from the Minnesota Twins for the 2020 season.
While missing on Odorizzi may sting for Blue Jays fans, there are pros and cons to consider with the right-hander not signing with the organization.
Price and term too much for the organization
Since the beginning of free agency this off-season, Odorizzi had been pushing for a multi-year contract in the three-year, $36+ million dollar range. Given the free-agent market this off-season and with COVID-19 impacting teams financially last year, Odorizzi’s asking price was on the higher side given his potential role in the rotation, but he was willing to wait into spring training to sign a deal.
The Blue Jays spent a significant amount on free agents like George Springer, Marcus Semien, and Kirby Yates, meaning they may have been tapped out on spending any more this off-season. As of the writing of this article, the financials of the deal with Odorizzi and the Astros has not been released yet, so it will be interesting to see how much the Astros spent on the Illinois native over the two years (plus option) and if they got a deal or overpaid for his services.
Internal options could be utilized
The Blue Jays have a lot of internal options in the rotation with the likes of Nate Pearson, Robbie Ray, Tanner Roark, T.J. Zeuch, Trent Thornton, Ross Stripling, Anthony Kay; and the list goes on and on. Some pitchers will head to the bullpen or to the minors, but Blue Jays management must have faith in their current options to get them to the postseason, with other players who don’t make the roster being able to take over if pitchers on the Blue Jays start to struggle or find themselves on the injured list.
There also is the possibility that the Blue Jays could make some trade deadline acquisitions this year as the team has a host of talent in the farm system to use as trade bait. By trading at the deadline, the Blue Jays could acquire another established starting pitcher like Zack Greinke or Max Scherzer (both are free agents next season) to help them reach the postseason this year without the longer-term commitment that was needed to sign Odorizzi. Factor in that the Blue Jays have a full 40 man roster, somebody would have to go for the right-hander to join the team.
Coming off a rough season
The 2020 season was not kind to Odorizzi, as he would only pitch 13.2 innings as he dealt with numerous injuries. He would begin the season on the injured list with back tightness and would make three starts before being hit by a line drive to the chest, missing a month with an abdominal contusion. He would then make one start in September before leaving that game with a blister on his pitching hand, missing the rest of the reason as a result.
While the contusion injury is a bit more a freak accident, Odorizzi is coming off his worst statistical season as he gave up four home runs and authored a 6.59 ERA in just four games. The shortened season and the injuries are the most likely contributors to the rough 2020 stats, but one does wonder if pitching 28+ games a year over the past six to seven years has taken its toll on the thirty-year-old.