One of the last free-agent pitchers on the market this past Winter, right-hander Jake Odorizzi drew the interest of the Toronto Blue Jays because of his veteran presence and his ability to pitch to around a 3.50 ERA when he is on his game. The signing would have been risky, especially coming off a rough injury-riddled 2020 season (four starts and a 6.59 ERA) and a subpar performance in 2018, but the club felt he may have been an upgrade over the likes of Tanner Roark and/or Steven Matz to begin the season.
Odorizzi would eventually sign with the Houston Astros on a three-year, $23.5 million dollar contract with a player option worth $6.5 million for the third year.
The Blue Jays were interested in quite a few players this off-season, and while they did sign some notable free agents, there are a few players that the club is most likely glad they either missed out on or didn’t pursue.
The righty pitcher would have a late start to the season given he did not sign with the Astros until deep into Spring Training and would also miss some time on the IL in late April/early May. Through 20 outings (19 starts) this season, the Illinois product has thrown to a 4.32 ERA through 89.2 innings of work while striking out 82 batters compared to his 31 walks.
Looking at the Blue Jays’ current starting rotation, only Ross Stripling boasts a higher ERA at 4.34 while the likes of Hyun Jin Ryu, Alek Manoah, Robbie Ray, and newcomer Jose Berrios have better stat lines than Odorizzi.
While the terms and contract are not bad with the starting pitcher, adding the righty to the Jays rotation would hardly be considered an upgrade given how well Manoah and Ray are pitching this season along with Ryu and Matz pitching below a 4.00 ERA. Berrios is around for next season if Ray moves on during the upcoming free-agent period and hopefully Nate Pearson can put the injury bug behind him and become a rotation arm again next year, essentially making any potential reason to sign Odorizzi in the first place a moot point.
Similar to Bauer, there were no formal details regarding any potential deal or contract offered from the Blue Jays to Odorizzi although the interest was reportedly there.