Toronto Blue Jays: Looking through a buy-low lens

TORONTO, ONTARIO - SEPTEMBER 15: Robbie Ray #38 of the Toronto Blue Jays walks off the mound against the Tampa Bay Rays in the seventh inning during their MLB game at the Rogers Centre on September 15, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - SEPTEMBER 15: Robbie Ray #38 of the Toronto Blue Jays walks off the mound against the Tampa Bay Rays in the seventh inning during their MLB game at the Rogers Centre on September 15, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /
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Aug 22, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jon Gray (55) delivers a pitch in the sixth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 22, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jon Gray (55) delivers a pitch in the sixth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

An unconventional “bargain”

In many cases, when I’m talking about a bargain situation with a potential free agent it usually means that it’s a short-term deal, and often a one-year contract. However, there’s one player on this year’s market that I think could be a bargain on a multi-year pact, and I fully expect the Blue Jays to be involved.

That player would be former Colorado Rockies starter Jon Gray, who will hit the open market having just turned 30 years old earlier this month. MLBtraderumors.com has the right-hander projected for a 4-year, 56 million dollar contract with his next team, and he strikes me as someone who could provide a lot of value on a mid-range contract like that.

While a matching career and 2021 ERA of 4.59 doesn’t jump off the page, we also have to take that with a grain of salt while remembering that he’s had to pitch in Colorado throughout his career. Scouts love his mid-upper nineties fastball, and it’s not hard to find folks who are talking about how much better he’ll be when he signs somewhere else. With the presence of Pete Walker in Toronto, who has a knack for getting the most out of starting pitchers who haven’t yet reached their potential, it’s a tantalizing idea to think about.

The hesitation with banking on someone like Gray is that there are so many other potential options available on this year’s market, and several are a lot more proven. For a team like the Blue Jays that are entering into an obvious win-now phase, spending their money on more of a “sure thing” might be a more desirable play here.

That said, I’m not sure there are many pitchers with his upside that could be available for 14-15 million per season, at least not on the free agent market. If Gray turns out to be as good as so many believe that he’ll be, it could be the kind of sneaky signing that makes or breaks a season. After all, the Jays only missed the playoffs by one game in 2021.