Four internal questions the Blue Jays will need to answer this offseason
Pending Free Agent Decisions
This offseason, the Blue Jays don’t have a ton of players heading to free agency, especially compared to last year. As per Spotrac, Ross Stripling, David Phelps, and Jackie Bradley Jr. are the only names heading to the market this offseason, with the club also needing to decide whether to pick up the option on reliever Anthony Bass (which at $3 million, seems like a no-brainer).
Stripling is the most intriguing name of the bunch, as the right-hander had probably one of the best campaigns he could have had in a walk year. Used in both the rotation and the bullpen for most of his career, the Blue Jays needed him to start games after Hyun Jin Ryu went on the IL and the Pennsylvania product delivered, posting a 3.1 fWAR with a 3.01 ERA through 32 appearances (24 starts). He appeared in a career-high 134.1 innings and posted a 7.4 K/9 with a career-best 1.3 BB/9, supplementing José Berríos on the depth charts if the Blue Jays forced a Game 3 in the Wild Card series.
The pending 33-year-old is eligible for the qualifying offer this winter, which is slated to come in at about $18-19 million. Part of me thinks Stripling signs this deal and will bet on himself again next year, especially since the Jays are without Hyun Jin Ryu for most of the season after he underwent Tommy John surgery and Stripling could slot back into the rotation.
It also wouldn’t be surprising if the Jays try and find an angle to sign him to a multi-year deal, potentially saving some money with the guarantee of more years. That might be hard to come by considering he will likely have some suitors if he hits the free agent market but he is open to returning, stating after the loss last night, “[The Jays] are exciting to be a part of and the future is obviously very bright. So I’d love to be a part of it, for sure.”
Phelps would also be a solid addition back to the Jays, as he posted a 2.83 ERA through 63.2 innings and likely won’t cost too much back on the free agent market (he signed a 1-year deal worth $2.75 million this past offseason). Bradley Jr. could be brought back as a bench outfield option but isn’t high on the priority list given the current outfield situation.