Late last evening, the Blue Jays made headlines by reportedly agreeing to a five-year contract with right-hander Kevin Gausman worth $110 million. One of the top free-agent starters this offseason along with Robbie Ray, Max Scherzer, and Justin Verlander, Gausman has been on the Blue Jays radar for a few years now after the club offered him a multi-year deal last offseason in the $40 million range, which he eventually turned down and signed the qualifying offer from the San Francisco Giants.
Gausman is coming off two great seasons with the Giants where he posted a combined 3.00 ERA through 45 outings with 306 strikeouts and a 1.057 WHIP. The Colorado product was a hot commodity this winter since he wasn’t tied to draft pick compensation and the Blue Jays were finally able to sign him to a long-term deal.
This deal is pretty substantial for the Blue Jays because it helps solidify the starting rotation for the next few seasons. The rotation already features Hyun Jin Ryu, Jose Berrios, and Alek Manoah, and with Gausman now joining the crew, they will be putting forth one of the top starting rotations in the AL East.
The Blue Jays signed Kevin Gausman last night and now there are at least three starting pitchers on the roster over the next five seasons.
Berrios is with the Blue Jays for a long time after inking a seven-year extension of his own and Manoah is under team control for at least five seasons after making his debut last year, with Ryu being on the books for just two more seasons before being eligible for free agency. Factor in prospect Nate Pearson could emerge as a rotation option once he logs some more innings at the Major League level and can stay healthy but the Blue jays are shaping up to have a pretty potent rotation with the recent Gausman acquisition.
The bigger question that arises is whether the Blue Jays are done adding to the rotation this offseason.
Robbie Ray is still out there and would be a great addition to the rotation but may be out of the Blue Jays price range given the recent Berrios extension and the Gausman contract. While it would be great to have the 2021 Cy Young winner back along with Gausman, it seems unlikely the club will bring both in the fold. Not impossible, just unlikely.
The Blue Jays could also explore the trade route and acquire a pitcher from a team looking to sell off assets or trade some of their rotation depth like the Oakland Athletics and the Miami Marlins. Both teams have a few different pitchers that have varying years of control like Frankie Montas, Chris Bassitt, Pablo Lopez, and Elieser Hernandez who could fill in the fifth rotation spot if the club does not have confidence in an internal solution like Pearson or Thomas Hatch. This would cost the Blue Jays some prospect depth or a roster player like Alejandro Kirk, Cavan Biggio, or Lourdes Gurriel Jr. but would solidify the rotation in a very competitive AL East division.
With Gausman joining the Blue Jays, the organization is sporting one of the strongest rotations in recent memories that possesses a good mix of veteran experience as well as some strong homegrown youth presence. Three out of the four starters are with the club for at least five seasons and it’s a great feeling to know that the rotation will be consistent during the next few campaigns complemented with a young core featuring some top offensive weapons like Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Teoscar Hernandez.
While the club lost Marcus Semien earlier this evening and Steven Matz last week, the addition of Kevin Gausman is one Blue Jays fans were hoping would happen this offseason and helps shape the rotation for the foreseeable future.