The Blue Jays received a ton of value from one-year contracts in 2021, and there’s a talented free agent still available who could provide the same next season.
Last year it was Marcus Semien and Robbie Ray who more than proved their value on one-year, “show me” contracts, and both were handsomely rewarded this offseason for their efforts. Ray turned a one-year, eight million dollar contract into five years and 115 million with the Seattle Mariners, which includes an opt-out after year three. Semien did even better for himself, converting one year and 18 million into a new seven-year, 175 million pact with the Texas Rangers. While it’s a bummer that the Jays are losing those two players, they did receive a Cy Young award winner, and the third place finisher in AL MVP voting for a combined 26 million in 2021, so I’d say they made out just fine.
If they’re looking to cash in on a similar kind of value again, I would suggest that they could turn to a player like Carlos Rodon.
To be fair, it’s entirely possible that there is a team willing to give Rodon a multi-year contract, so this whole discussion could turn out to be moot. However, I think there’s a strong possibility that the former Chicago White Sox starter could sign a one-year contract before looking for a career-defining contract next offseason, and the Blue Jays would be wise to check in and see if that’s the case.
For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t necessarily argue that they even need to invest in their rotation to this degree. They already have a strong top-four that consists of Kevin Gausman, Jose Berrios, Hyun Jin Ryu, and Alek Manoah, and others like Nate Pearson, Ross Stripling, and Thomas Hatch that could battle for the fifth starter’s job. Ideally I’d like to see the Jays spend their remaining budget on finding another infielder to help replace Semien’s production, and probably to raise the floor and ceiling of the bullpen. I’d even like to see them find someone who could serve as an extra outfielder/part-time DH, such as a Corey Dickerson type that they had down the stretch in 2021.
However, if they have the opportunity to sign someone like Rodon on a one-year contract then I think it’s worth taking a look at, especially if his market isn’t that hot. I expect that other teams like the Yankees, Angels, and Dodgers will continue looking for rotation help once a new CBA is in place, and they likely won’t be alone. That said, a one year contract is a different situation altogether, and the Jays could have some strong selling points.
As I’ve already said here, I would prefer if the Blue Jays focused their efforts to improve the roster on the infield, however, I recognize that the moves a team would like to make don’t always come together, and sometimes you just need to improve the roster in the ways that are actually available to you. That’s how I see Rodon, not as a Plan A, but rather a situation to monitor and one that could pay off on another “show me” type of contract.
We’ll see how many teams are interesting in Rodon’s services once the offseason gets going again. For the Blue Jays, it would be an unconventional way to improve the roster, but
it’s something to keep an eye on.