Toronto Blue Jays News

Mid-tier free agent targets for Blue Jays’ rotation

Clem McConnell
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 26: Starting pitcher Alek Manoah #6 of the Toronto Blue Jays and catcher Danny Jansen #9 head to the dugout before the game against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field on September 26, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 26: Starting pitcher Alek Manoah #6 of the Toronto Blue Jays and catcher Danny Jansen #9 head to the dugout before the game against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field on September 26, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) /
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Sep 30, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Alex Cobb (38) pitches against the Texas Rangers during the first inning at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 30, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Alex Cobb (38) pitches against the Texas Rangers during the first inning at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

Alex Cobb

Age: 34

Position: RHP

Last Contract: 4 yrs/ $57MM

2021 stats: 93.1 IP, 9.45 K/9, 3.18 BB/9, 0.48 HR/9, with a 3.76 ERA and 2.92 FIP, resulting in 2.5 fWAR, which is tied with Alex Wood for tenth amongst free-agent starting pitchers in 2021.

The first thing to note when it comes to Cobb’s 2021 season is his ability to be productive via his high strikeout and low walk rate, despite the lack of innings he pitched due to a blister and wrist injury that caused him to miss a third of the season.

The second thing to note is his injury history, Cobb got Tommy John surgery at the beginning of 2016 and went down on a season-ending arm injury in late April 2019. Despite his solid production in 2021, the amount of time he’s missed in conjunction with the fact that he’s entering his age 34 season ought to cause concern.

He did, however, according to Baseball Savant, manage to post a barrel rate of just 4.2%, putting him in the top 6% of MLB pitchers in 2021. This was partly due to his ability to dance around the zone while still generating whiffs when he chooses to throw what would be a called strike.

Plus, his potential cost relative to the rest of the mid-tier arms available could mean he’d be an interesting flyer to round out the bottom of the rotation and perhaps add more competition for a spot in the rotation.

Danny Duffy

Jul 3, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Danny Duffy (30) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 3, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Danny Duffy (30) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports /

Age: 33

Position: LHP

Last Contract: 5 yr/ $65MM

2021 stats: 61.0 IP, 9.59 K/9, 3.25 BB/9, 0.89 HR/9, with a 2.51 ERA and 3.40 FIP, resulting in 1.6 fWAR.

There are a lot of reasons Duffy is unlikely to get a call from the Blue Jays early in the offseason. For starters, 2021 marked the first instance in the southpaw’s career in which he missed significant time, spending 117 days on the IL due to a recurring flexor strain in his left elbow.

Eyebrows should justifiably be raised when hearing the words “strain” and “elbow” with regards to signing a pitcher in his mid-thirties and the odds of a deal being worked out prior to a front office having a clear idea of the extent of his injury are next to nill.

Another potential speedbump for this hypothetical deal with Toronto is whether or not he would even consider playing for the Blue Jays. We’re still just four years removed from his tweet that read, “Bury me a Royal.”, and despite having been traded to the Dodgers at the deadline last season, he never officially took the mound, suggesting his existential loyalty to the team might still be intact and therefore worth preserving. Based on past career choices it’s not unreasonable to think that Duffy either re-signs on a team-friendly deal with the Royals or plays for a team in his home state of California.

Choose your own Blue Jays adventure to the 2021 offseason. dark. Next

However, a team that’s willing to properly utilize him might be able to take advantage of what led Duffy to increase his chase rate to 30.7%, and his whiff rate to 29.1%, both career highs according to Baseball Savant. Even his home run rate was slashed to the best in his career since the league-wide offensively quiet 2014 season, making it plausible that he could survive in the homer-prone parks of the AL East.

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