A stunning free agent signing the Blue Jays should consider as spring training looms

Could this stud pitcher be the difference maker for the Jays in 2024?

Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Three
Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Three / Norm Hall/GettyImages

For this current offseason, the Toronto Blue Jays haven’t provided the excitement that many were expecting despite already making three solid free agent signings. Many were anticipating that the ballclub would land some big free agent such as a Shohei Ohtani or a Cody Bellinger to significantly bolster their roster for the 2024 season, but neither has come to fruition thus far.

Nevertheless, the Blue Jays can still make amends by pursuing a big fish prior to the start of spring training. Speaking of huge star power, there is still a prominent, future Hall of Famer still available in the market that could provide the spark and excitement that many of the Jays’ faithful have been waiting for. How about legendary southpaw Clayton Kershaw?

When it comes to pure pitching dominance and consistency, there has been no one that has come close to what Kershaw has put up during his decade-plus in the league. The three-time Cy Young winner and 10-time All-Star possesses a career winning record of 210-92 with a stellar 2.48 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, along with 25 complete games including 15 shutouts, as well as 2944 strikeouts in 2712.2 innings pitched over his 16 years in the major leagues. 

For those that believe he may be losing a step, he still managed to post a strong 13-5 record along with a 2.46 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in 24 starts at the age of 36, all while battling shoulder issues. Those numbers would have put him in the top five pitchers in the league if he had 30.1 innings more under his belt for his stats to qualify. With the ability to rely on his slider as his primary pitch, along with his low 90s fastball and curveball complementing his pitching arsenal, Kershaw can remain an effective pitcher even when heading into his late 30s.

The Los Angeles Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman previously expressed sincere interest in bringing Kershaw back for another season. But with the Dodgers’ recent overhaul with their starting rotation by spending big on star talent in free agents Shohei Ohtani, Yoshinobu Yamamoto and James Paxton, along with trading for Tyler Glasnow, it appears less likely of a Kershaw reunion with the only ballclub that he has played for in his entire career. 

With that In mind, Toronto could be his ideal landing spot for many reasons. First of all, the big splash of signing a potential first-ballot future Hall of Famer would garner big time excitement for the fans and the city, after suffering from major disappointment so far this offseason. Secondly, adding Kershaw to the rotation would give the ballclub the consistency and reliability they desperately need right away, instead of waiting to see what Rodrîguez can provide or if Alek Manoah can bounce back.

Thirdly, Kershaw would bring with him a breadth of postseason experience in which he been through all the ups and downs before finally winning it all, something the Jays will be able to relate to. In addition, under the masterful wisdom of pitching coach Pete Walker, the Jays should be able to provide the right load management for Kershaw to keep him healthy and effective. Most importantly, Kershaw is likely looking at another one-year deal like his previous two seasons. In that case, if for any reason the Kershaw experiment doesn’t work out, the Jays are only on the hook for the single season.

Of course, with Kershaw running into injury issues in recent years, it certainly comes with a high risk. But if managed properly a la Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors, Kershaw can be a high reward for the Blue Jays that could elevate them to the next level and perhaps even compete for the World Series championship. So, Ross Atkins, let’s get it done for once!