Top 5 options to fill out the Blue Jays starting Rotation
Yusei Kikuchi: Free Agent
Japanese import Yusei Kikuchi put together a fantastic first half of the 2021 season, posting a 3.48 ERA over 98.1 innings, earning himself his first career All-star game appearance. The latter half of the season was a completely different story though, as he put up a 5.98 ERA over 58.2 innings. This brutal second half led to the Mariners choosing not to pick up his contract option and has put him on the open market.
Back in December, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported that the Blue Jays were one of three teams who had given Kikuchi an offer, so the interest is there. It’s just a question of whether or not the Jays should want him and what it could cost.
A significant amount of damage dealt to Kikuchi was against his cutter this past season (per Baseball Savant), which is his signature pitch. While it’s obviously concerning that his main pitch was what got him in the most trouble, there’s reason to believe that working with a Pete Walker could help him find his groove, given his track record with guys like Robbie Ray and Steven Matz.
While he may not be the safest bet, he shouldn’t command too much on the open market and will likely be looking for a one-year prove-it deal, which could come for less than the 13 million dollar option he turned down before becoming a free agent. Kikuchi probably shouldn’t be at the top of the Jays list, but for a fifth starter, you could do a lot worse.