Mid-tier free agent targets for Blue Jays’ rotation
Last Contract: 1yr/$6MM (avoided final year of arbitration)
2021 stats: 149.0 IP, 9.48 K/9, 3.50 BB/9, 1.27 HR/9, with a 4.59 ERA and 4.22 FIP, resulting in 2.5 fWAR.
Gray did not receive a qualifying offer, however, he reportedly turned down a deal from Colorado in the range of $35-40 million over three years, according to Nick Groke and Eno Sarris of The Athletic.
While Gray’s raw numbers are less than ideal, at least some of that can be attributed to Coors Field, right? Well, on the surface, his home/road splits don’t suggest he would fare any better in a different ballpark given his career ERA at Coors Field is 4.54, and on the road, it’s 4.65. There is, however, some compelling evidence that fatigue plays a larger role in starting pitchers’ efficacy while playing in Denver. This means Toronto could get more productivity out of Gray on a game-by-game basis than what the Rockies were able to.
Extending Jose Berrios is great for the Blue Jays in the long term, but moves still need to be made to improve the team’s rotation for 2022.
Another thing worthy of consideration is that Gray has a very similar pitch mix as Ray, both of whom throw a fastball and slider combination for over 85% of their pitches. Plus, Gray, like Ray, has above average fastball velocity and a walk rate that, though not as bad as Ray was at his worse, could still use improvement.
This could very well be meaningless, but it could also suggest that he’s a perfect client for Pete Walker who could immediately help improve his mechanics (and instruct when to strategically grunt), based on what he learned while working with Ray.