Blue Jays need to find a way to extend Robbie Ray and Marcus Semien
With how well Robbie Ray and Marcus Semien are playing, it makes sense that both players should be re-signed after the end of this season.
Adding Ray back to the rotation would form a solid 1-2-3-4 punch alongside Hyun Jin Ryu, Jose Berrios, and Alek Manoah that would rival other rotations within the AL East and the American League overall.
His left-handedness would be a benefit to have to break up the righties the Jays feature in Berrios and Manoah as well as the fact that he is just pitching well. He has one of the best ERA’s on the team and possesses the veteran presence that would go well with the young core. Did I mention that he is pitching really well?
With Semien returning to the team, he can continue to form the tandem with Bo Bichette, whether the team chooses to move him to short (moving Bo to second) or keep him at second. He has plus speed that bodes well at the top of the lineup and power off the bat that forms a deadly combination alongside Bichette, George Springer, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Teoscar Hernandez, one of the reasons the Blue Jays have been one of the best offensive teams in the league this year.
The biggest obstacle to signing both individuals will come down to financials, as they will be both in line for raises this upcoming off-season. Semien will most likely be earning roughly around the same area plus or minus a few million dollars while I highly doubt Ray will be available at just $8 million.
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As per Spotrac, the Blue Jays are financially committed to four players (Ryu, Springer, Randal Grichuk, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr.) at just under $65 million dollars, and that is not including players eligible for arbitration or those under team control. Players like Jose Berrios, Ross Stripling, and Teoscar Hernandez will be in line for raises as well as they enter second or third years of arbitration while Guerrero Jr., Danny Jansen, and Trevor Richards will be in their first year of arbitration, so more money owed but nothing as significant as the previous group. Bichette, Cavan Biggio, and a majority of the young core will still be in the pre-arbitration phases.
Coming off the books will be contracts owed to Shun Yamaguchi, Tyler Chatwood, Tanner Roark, and Troy Tulowitzki, clearing up some much-needed space to potentially go after one of Ray or Semien. Factor in that Brad Hand, Rafael Dolis, Joakim Soria, Steven Matz, Kirby Yates, and Corey Dickerson will be free agents at the end of the year and not possibly returning, and the Blue Jays earn some more cap space to work with signing Ray or Semien as well some potential off-season targets or contract extensions for some of the younger core players.
The Blue Jays should have some money in the bank if they want to spend and re-sign Robbie Ray and Marcus Semien, as long as both players are willing to return to the organization if the club ponies up the money. There are obviously other factors involved when it comes to how much the front office can spend (they are owned by a publicly-traded company after all) but if the previous history is any telling sign for when the Blue Jays are knocking on playoff doors, the front office should have some money to spend this off-season.
It should be noted that both players are technically eligible for qualifying offers from the Blue Jays (which should be around the $18-20 million area), so there is always the potential that one or both could return on a one-year deal with how stacked this upcoming free-agent class is going to be. If they reject the QO and sign elsewhere, the Jays will at least be compensated with a draft pick for next season (if the QO is offered to either player) that should be around the second/third round area given the criteria.
Overall, there is always risk associated with re-signing players and hoping they can find the same success they are experiencing now, but with how well Semien and Ray are meshing with this current core, as well as how well they are both playing, I think the Blue Jays are a better team with both of them back on the roster.
Time will obviously tell and they could move on from the organization come winter but with the current roster playing well and under contract control (for the most part), the Blue Jays time to win is currently in motion and hopefully, that idea with some money thrown in is enough to bring Robbie Ray and Marcus Semien back to the Blue Jays organization next year and possibly beyond.