The first big free agent move
After the Blue Jays finished 67-95 in 2019, I wasn’t sure whether the front office would actually invest in the roster or not. There was a lot of chatter about plenty of different free agents, but Blue Jays fans were used to hearing that sort of thing and missing out on the top-tier of players that were available.
And then they signed Hyun Jin Ryu to a four-year, 80 million dollar contract.
Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t the mega-deal that the Yankees reached with Gerrit Cole the same offseason, but it was a significant step in the right direction for a young Blue Jays team. Ryu gave them a legitimate ace to front the rotation, which was important for a team that badly needed some stability on the pitching staff. He provided exactly that in his first season, and while he flamed out a bit in the second half last year, Ryu should still be a significant part of the rotation for at least the next two seasons.
Signing veteran southpaw did more than just help the pitching staff though. It also sent an important message to the young core in Toronto that this franchise intends to win again at some point, and investing in a piece of the puzzle was an important step, even if they didn’t project to compete in 2020. Ryu’s presence gave the roster more legitimacy in general, and showed future free agents that they’d be willing to spend as well.
Speaking of that angle, signing Ryu also helped improve a strained relationship with super-agent Scott Boras. Whether many of us want to admit it or not, Boras probably has the biggest impact on the game of anyone alive that’s not a player or a coach. He has always represented a significant portion of the premium free agents in baseball, and the present day is no exception. These days Boras speaks favourably about the Blue Jays, and unfortunately that actually matters.
Ryu alone wouldn’t change the fortunes of the Blue Jays, but he absolutely helped in a number of important ways.