With the offseason in full swing, analysts and baseball sites across the league are starting to predict where they believe the top free agents are going to sign this winter. This includes the Blue Jays, as the Rogers owned organization and the front office appear ready to spend this offseason in order to improve the roster for next season and beyond, whether it be through trade or free agency.
Let’s take a look at some of the offseason free agency predictions involving the Blue Jays.
Prediction by: Tim Dierkes, Steve Adams, and Anthony Franco at MLB Trade Rumours; Ken Davidoff at New York Post
Southpaw Robbie Ray produced one of the best seasons of his career with the Blue Jays in 2021, finishing with a 2.84 ERA through 32 starts. Ray saw an improvement in his command to the tune of a 2.4 BB/9 while also striking out 248 batters on his way to being named a finalist for the AL Cy Young. After taking a one-year deal with the Jays in the last offseason, Ray hits free agency in line for a big pay and the front office has already expressed interest in bringing him back to the club next season and beyond.
MLB Trade Rumours and Kevin Davidoff at the New York Post think a reunion is on the horizon and this would be great news for the Blue Jays if he can continue to pitch well. There is some risk that he won’t be able to live up to the Cy Young caliber season he put up in 2021 but the reward could go a long way with a full season of Jose Berrios and Alek Manoah also in the rotation next year. MLB Trade Rumours predicts Ray will be signing a five-year deal worth approximately $130 million.
Prediction by: Ken Davidoff at New York Post
Drafted by the Colorado Rockies back in the first round of the 2013 MLB Draft, right-hander Jon Gray heads to free agency after turning down an extension from the Rockies worth approximately $35-40 million through three years. Through 151 starts, Gray sports a 4.59 ERA while pitching at home in the hitter-friendly confines Coors Field while striking out 849 batters at a 9.2 K/9 for his career.
Gray is a bit of a gamble signing, as his numbers cannot be entirely blamed on pitching at a hitter-friendly park for half a season, as his away numbers are still high at a 4.65 ERA through 412.2 innings. He could be a bounce-back candidate similar to the Ray signing last offseason and a year with Pete Walker could do wonders but there’s a slim chance Gray is looking for a short term deal, with three-four years potentially being to much of a risk if he can’t find a rhythm North of the border.
Prediction by: Anthony Castrovince at MLB.com
After another great season with the San Francisco Giants, right-hander Kevin Gausman heads to free agency for the second consecutive campaign but will not be tied to a qualifying offer this winter. The Blue Jays went after Gausman last season with a three-year deal worth approximately $40 million but he returned to the Giants when he accepted the QO. For his career, Gausman sports a 4.02 ERA through 1177.1 innings of work but is coming off two seasons of sub 4.00 ERA baseball and was one of San Francisco’s top arms during his time in the Bay area. Anthony Castrovince at MLB.com predicts the Blue Jays could be interested in pursuing Gausman again this offseason.
If Ray does end up leaving the club this offseason, Gausman should be one of Blue Jays top interests considering he has been pitching well over the past two seasons even though he is in line for a greater contract than the one Ross Atkins and co. offered him last offseason. This deal likely doesn’t happen if Ray does return, as both contracts along with Hyun Jin Ryu’s $40 million owed over the next two seasons might not be feasible with a young core needing contract extensions in the near future.