The Blue Jays have had a lot of bad news lately on the injury front, but hopefully they’ve got the depth to get by for now, and funds for a rainy day for later.
With the news that the Jays might have some renewed interest in the pitching market, it’s possible that Ross Atkins looks for a way to bolster his pitching staff ahead of Opening Day. There is a fair bit of depth throughout the organization as far as talented arms, but probably not nearly as much of a track record of success as they’d prefer. That’s especially the case now that the bullpen has joined the rotation as an area of concern.
To recap, on Tuesday fans learned that Kirby Yates is likely headed for Tommy John surgery before he’s even thrown a regular season pitch. On top of that, Robbie Ray bruised his elbow with a freak accident at home and could miss some time, and the Jays were already dealing with Nate Pearson and Thomas Hatch and their respective ailments. To round it off, George Springer could miss the start of the 2021 campaign because of sore oblique, and those muscles can take a while to heal properly.
None of the news lately has been ideal on the health front, but the bright side is with the exception of Yates and possibly Hatch, most of these important contributors shouldn’t be out long. That said, the Blue Jays are being reminded of the importance of preparing for all kinds of scenarios, and in hindsight Atkins may have made one of his better decisions of the winter when he resisted signing one more veteran starting pitching, such as Taijuan Walker, or maybe someone like James Paxton.
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At the time it seemed foolish to pass on the opportunity, and in a lot of ways the Blue Jays could use Walker or Paxton right now. However, what the spring has reminded us is that injuries can change a roster in a real hurry, and priorities can change at the same time. Over the course of 162 games, the dynamic can completely shift, and trying to have every last piece in place on Opening Day is a very rare thing.
In theory, Atkins could turn back to the free agent market to look for some reinforcements. Oddly enough there are still a few veteran relievers looking for a new home, such as Shane Greene (who does have experience as a closer), Brad Peacock, or maybe rolling the dice on another veteran righty with an injury history in David Robertson. As for starters, Cole Hamels, Mike Leake, and Rick Porcello could still be had.
My assumption is that Atkins and his staff will turn to their internal options first, especially because the regular season still hasn’t started. They could try to throw a bandaid on the Yates injury or the early rotation health issues, but I’m guessing that once again Atkins will prefer to hang on to whatever budget he might have left for 2021.
That money could be used to cover a more serious injury later on in the season, or in a best case scenario, give the Blue Jays the reinforcements they need once July rolls around and they’re laser focused on the playoff race. As much as most of us wanted to see Atkins add one more starter this winter, assuming he left some money in the coffers for a rainy day, it looks like he made the right decision.