Five Reasons the Blue Jays Should be OUT on Bryant, Correa, and Story

Sep 29, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette (11) hits a solo home run against New York Yankees in the eighth inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 29, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette (11) hits a solo home run against New York Yankees in the eighth inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /
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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – OCTOBER 12: Starting pitcher Carlos Rodon #55 of the Chicago White Sox delivers the ball against the Houston Astros at Guaranteed Rate Field on October 12, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. The Astros defeated the White Sox 10-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

4. Jordan Groshans – Toronto’s 2018 First Round Draft Pick

Currently ranked by the Blue Jays as the number three prospect in the organization, 22-year old Jordan Groshans is projected to arrive in the majors in 2022.  With an overall scouting grade of 55 (including hit 55, arm 60), the Blue Jays’ 2018 first-round draft pick (12th overall) led all Toronto hitters at the 2020 alternate training site in home runs, and projects to generate increased power as he continues to mature physically. Despite having just 23 games of full-season experience prior to the year, Groshans spent the entire 2021 season at Double-A New Hampshire, batting .291/.367/.450 with 81 total hits, including seven homers and 23 doubles, while driving in 40 runs and scoring 46. His average ranked fifth and his .817 OPS ranked eighth among all Toronto minor leaguers with at least 300 plate appearances (per

Not currently on the 40-man roster, Groshans may not break Opening Day with Toronto, but many have speculated that the Jays have to this point steered away from signing a big-ticket free-agent third baseman due to the imminent arrival of Groshans at the position.

5. Carlos Rodon

Rather than gambling on an older, expensive free-agent infielder, relying on cost-efficient productivity from a healthy Biggio at second, and some combination of Espinal and Groshans at third, would allow the Jays to be far more aggressive financially to more fully address their most pressing need coming out of 2021 – pitching depth.

The problem with the ’21 Jays was not offensive production. Semien’s departure does leave a hole, but much of that should be replaced by a fully healthy George Springer in 2022. If the Jays still have big money to spend this offseason, run prevention should be the focus.

Carlos Rodon is the top pitcher remaining on the free-agent market by both 2021 fWAR and projected 2022 fWAR (per Fangraphs). Overall in 2021, Rodon made 24 starts for the White Sox, highlighted by a no-hitter in April, going 13-5 with a 2.37 ERA in 132 innings and, despite missing a handful of starts, finishing fifth in Cy Young voting.

There is the obvious health uncertainty due to arm issues – Rodon pitched only 42 innings combined in 2019 and 2020. After a dominant first half of the 2021 season, Rodon experienced declining velocity that led to a stint on the IL in August. However, the big lefty finished the season strong – pitching 18 innings in September, making all four starts with a 2.00 ERA and a 22/5 K/BB ratio.

While Berrios, Gausman, and Manoah are locked in at the front end of the starting rotation, the Jays’ fourth and fifth starter positions are less clear, with Hyun-jin Ryu’s effectiveness dropping off significantly through the second half of 2021. Nate Pearson, Thomas Hatch, Ryan Borucki and Julian Merryweather have each shown flashes of top-end potential while dealing with persistent health issues, and while each could be stretched out as a starter in 2022, it is more likely they will be returned to the bullpen.

MLB Trade Rumors projects Rodon will receive a one-year, $25 million contract. This type of short-term “prove-it” deal has worked out well for several Blue Jays recently (most notably Semien, Ray, and Stephen Matz). Rodon’s former teammate Jose Berrios should be able to address any questions Rodon may have about the Toronto organization, and a chance to work with Pete Walker should have appeal. The 29-year-old Rodon did not receive a qualifying offer from the White Sox, which means the Jays would not have to give up draft-pick compensation. Free-agent pitchers signing similar one-year deals this offseason include Noah Syndergaard (1 year / $21m with the Angels) and James Paxton (1 year / $10m with the Red Sox), both coming off Tommy John injuries.

Next. Why the Blue Jays have the right financial formula in the rotation. dark

The Jays bullpen was exposed badly in 2021, in the first half of the season in particular, before the additions of Trevor Richards and Adam Cimber helped Tim Mayza and Jordan Romano stabilize things down the stretch. The return of David Phelps on a minor league deal and the free-agent signing of Garcia also improve the outlook. But further strengthening the top end of the starting rotation with Rodon could take significant pressure off the bullpen and extend the development timeline for Toronto’s younger starters.